“Mary Lennox was horrid. Selfish and spoilt, she was sent to stay with her hunchback uncle in Yorkshire. She hated it. But when she finds the way into a secret garden and begins to tend it, a change comes over her and her life. She meets and befriends a local boy, the talented Dickon, and comes across her sickly cousin Colin who had been kept hidden from her. Between them, the three children work astonishing magic in themselves and those around them.”
What I thought:
Am I the only person in the entire history of the world who didn’t read this book as a child? Was I deprived of books, I hear you ask, were my parents paper-hating non-bibliophiles? No, not at all! My parents were both teachers and were always reading to me and encouraging me to read my own books (which, of course, I did). So why then did this book pass me by? The answer eludes me, but hey – it’s been rectified and charmingly so.
When I received a copy of this gorgeous looking book in the post from Oxford World Classics, I knew it was high time I read this book. I had heard great things, knew it was a classic and pretty damn sure I would enjoy it and all the ingredients for a fun read were there. What I wasn’t prepared for was just HOW much I’d love it! Frances Hodgson Burnett is a funny lady – who knew??!
The book starts off with the incredibly spoilt Mary Lennox being taken back to England from India where she has lived all her life with her doting father and indulgent servants. She is sent to stay at the house of an uncle she has never met in the wilds of Yorkshire and she doesn’t like it one bit! At first she refuses to eat breakfast and mopes around feeling sorry for herself, but when she goes outside and reaslises how wonderful the moors and the gardens and grounds of the large, looming house are Mary begins to enjoy herself, especially when she finds an entrance to a secret garde that has been shut away for 10 years.
The characterisation is what made this book come alive for me. Mary and her two contempraries, Colin and Dickon, make an interesting trio (although do bear in mind when reading this that it was written in Edwardian times otherwise invalid Colin may grate on your nerves for being a pompous, bossy wimp rather than a sign of the times and circumstance).
If you haven’t read this book yet (are there more people out there besides me?) then I insist that you pick it up! It’s wonderful, twee, humorous and the perfect escapism into a childhood long gone. Loved it.
(source: I received my copy of this book from OWC)