The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Secret Garden

When orphaned Mary Lennox comes to live at her uncle's great house on the Yorkshire Moors, she finds it full of secrets. The mansion has nearly one hundred rooms, and her uncle keeps himself locked up. And at night, she hears the sound of crying down one of the long corridors.The gardens surrounding the large property are Mary's only escape. Then, Mary discovers a secret g...

Title:The Secret Garden
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:0517189607
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:331 pages

The Secret Garden Reviews

  • Todd
    Aug 22, 2007

    I know this book seems out of place among the fare I usually read, but hey, all I can say is that I like what I like. There is some intangible quality to this book that really strikes a chord in me. The whole idea of that sickly child being healed with love, attention, and (forgive me an LDS joke) wholesome recreational activities, just somehow speaks Truth to me. I think this book has strong application to today's problems with the rising generation. I really believe that kids these days are ge

    I know this book seems out of place among the fare I usually read, but hey, all I can say is that I like what I like. There is some intangible quality to this book that really strikes a chord in me. The whole idea of that sickly child being healed with love, attention, and (forgive me an LDS joke) wholesome recreational activities, just somehow speaks Truth to me. I think this book has strong application to today's problems with the rising generation. I really believe that kids these days are getting fatter, less healthy, and less disciplined. I think that a good romp on the heather and a breath of fresh air would do kids a lot of good.

    On another level, I really believe that some people are only as sick as they think they are. Working in the healthcare field, it's obvious to me that some people find it quite easy to take the role of a victim. Again, this book speaks Truth concerning the value of attitude and perspective in overcoming perceived problems and finding out that they weren't as bad as you thought they were.

  • K.D. Absolutely
    Aug 08, 2009

    I am now confused. I do not know anymore what is my preference when it comes to books.

    When I was a kid, I wanted to read only books with pictures like the illustrated "Alice in the Wonderland" or "Rip Van Winkle". Until I read "Silas Marner" with no pictures and I said, wow, books with no pictures are also great!

    When I was a teenager, I said I don't like to read books that are hard to understand and read by adults until I read "Lolita" by Vladimir Nabokov and I said, wow, I did not know that th

    I am now confused. I do not know anymore what is my preference when it comes to books.

    When I was a kid, I wanted to read only books with pictures like the illustrated "Alice in the Wonderland" or "Rip Van Winkle". Until I read "Silas Marner" with no pictures and I said, wow, books with no pictures are also great!

    When I was a teenager, I said I don't like to read books that are hard to understand and read by adults until I read "Lolita" by Vladimir Nabokov and I said, wow, I did not know that there are authors who write this way!

    When I was a young man, I said I do not want thick books because I do not have time for them until I read "War and Peace" and "The Fountainhead" and I said, wow, thick books can be really engaging and finishing them can give you a different high!

    When I became a husband, my sex life became busy, I stopped heavy reading and concentrated on my job (not on copulating you silly) so I just grabbed some easy-read bestsellers like "The Da Vinci Code", "The Kite Runner" until my daughter came and I had to read some children's books to her and she loved them but I secretly hated them until I read to her "The Little Prince" and said, wow, there are still children's books that can speak to me even if I am a grown up man!

    When I became a middle-aged man, I discovered Goodreads. There is an option to screen members who apply to become your friend by asking the applicant a question. I thought then that the choice of genre was important so I chose this question:

    and from then on, I have been accepting and ignoring invites based on his/her answer. I generally don't accept invites from people who say they don't have any preference. I thought that that kind of answer is wishy-washy or indecisive that reflects his or her not being a serious reader.

    Prior to last year, I said, I don't want to read fantasy books. I am too old for that. Until, I read the whole series of J.R.R.Tolkien's

    and I say, wow, wow, wow, I did not know that I could still be amazed by a fantasy book about wizards, trolls, flying horse, monsters and little creatures!

    This book,

    is a kind of book that I would not even consider reading. It is neither a 501 nor a 1001 book. The reason why I read this is that it is one of the Top 100 Favorite Books of The Filipino Group here at Goodreads. We challenged ourselves to read all the chosen books so I gave this a try.

    Story-wise, it is too sweeet. Saccharine corny. Predictable. Inappropriate for a middle-age man like me. Almost insulting to intelligence: feisty girl turns sweet girl. Sickly unwanted boy turns healthy. Then the boy and father embrace each other and profess love for one another. Hu hu hu. Books can just hit you without any warning. I was sad yet happy when I closed this book this morning. I think I am going crazy reading different books and experience all the different emotions while reading them.

    So I don't know anymore. I don't know what I like in books. No more preferences. Ask me now, what is my favorite genre. I don't know.

    But, the writing in this book is flawless. I have attended a novel-writing workshop last year and all the ingredients of a good novel are here: well-developed characters, each of them has his/her own distinct voice and transforming towards the end, milieu (the garden) is clearly described and very significant in the story, the internal and external conflicts are arranged like small-to-tall majorettes in a parade, the hooks at the end of each chapter, the climax, the falling action, the denouement ties up the loose ends from the conflicts. The theme is solid. The lessons, though corny, are school-textbook-kind of reminders: that love is important to make this world a better place and nature is beautiful so we have to take care of it.

    I guess my realization is this:

  • Manybooks
    Nov 23, 2009

    I first read this wonderful and evocative absolute and utter gem of a story at around age twelve or thirteen (it was likely one of the first longer novels I read entirely in English, not counting those books read for school). I simply adored Frances Hodgson Burnett's

    when I read it as a young teenager (or rather, a tween), I continued to love it when I reread it multiple times while at university, and I still massively loved the novel when I reread the story for the Children's

    I first read this wonderful and evocative absolute and utter gem of a story at around age twelve or thirteen (it was likely one of the first longer novels I read entirely in English, not counting those books read for school). I simply adored Frances Hodgson Burnett's

    when I read it as a young teenager (or rather, a tween), I continued to love it when I reread it multiple times while at university, and I still massively loved the novel when I reread the story for the Children's Literature Group in 2011 (and I much continue to love it, having reread it at least twice or so since then).

    I honestly think that I enjoyed

    even more as an adult than the times I read the novel when I was younger (and that is saying an awful lot). When I first read

    as a young teenager, I was definitely enchanted by the garden (and of course, the Robin), and I really liked and enjoyed reading about the Sowerbys, but I did kind of consider both Mary and Colin as somewhat spoiled and selfish (I understood their problems and felt some empathy, but I also felt more than a bit annoyed at and by them, something that I certainly did not experience as much during my adult rereads). As an adult reader, I actually and firmly believe that most, if not all of both Mary's and Colin's problems and behavioural quirks (be they emotional or physical) are the result of parental abandonment and emotional neglect (maybe even abuse). They act and react towards the world the way the world (or at least how most of the world) has always acted and reacted towards them. And without the garden, but also without characters like Martha, Susan and Dickon Sowerby, without Ben Weatherstaff and the Robin, there would never have been any change in and for Mary (or at least, not enough change), and by extension, there would never have been any change in and for Colin and his father either.

    One interesting and thought-provoking fact presented in

    is that there actually seems to be a real and almost palpable absence of nurturing father figures throughout (except maybe Dickon, but he is just a boy and in many ways resembles more a Pan-like nature deity, and Ben Weatherstaff really is too old and curmudgeonly to be considered nurturing and fatherly). We do have quite a number of nurturing mother figures portrayed who aid Mary, and later Colin in their recovery (Susan and Martha Sowerby, and even Mary later becomes somewhat of a motherly and nurturing figure towards Colin), but we never see or hear much about a Mr. Sowerby (he is a complete nonentity). And while much is made of the fact that Mary Lennox' mother did not seem to want her child (a fact that is rightfully criticised), the fact that Mr. Lennox did not trouble himself much about his daughter either, while mentioned briefly, is seemingly accepted as a given (or at least much more accepted). Also, while the fact that Mr. Craven has spiritually and emotionally abandoned Colin, and cannot stand to see him when he's awake because his son's eyes remind him of the boy's dead mother is noted in the novel, this rather vile and nasty attitude and behaviour is not (at least in my humble opinion) subject to nearly the same amount of harsh criticism that Mary's emotional and spiritual abandonment by her mother is. I know that the death of Mr. Craven's wife was traumatic for him, but both Mr. Carven's and Mrs. Lennox' actions, or rather their lack of love and acceptance towards their children have had horrible psychological (and psychosomatic) consequences, basically turning both of them into emotional cripples, and Colin into a hysterical hypochondriac who thinks he has a crooked back.

    clearly and lastingly demonstrates that children (no, anyone) can only show love, can only be lovable, if they have experienced love themselves. In the beginning of the novel, Mary is described as tyrannical, unpleasant, thoroughly "unlovable" and also as somewhat odd. But how can Mary know anything about love, if she has never experienced love? Her parents certainly do not seem to want her, and she has basically been abandoned to the care of servants, who have also been instructed to keep Mary out of the way as much as possible (and in her innermost soul, Mary likely realises this and much and rightly resents this). Mary's temper tantrums towards her Ayah and other servants, her desire to always get her own way, are not merely Mary imitating the behaviour she witnesses among the ex-pat community in India (although that likely also has a part to play). I believe in many ways, the servants act as representatives of her absent parents, and by lashing out at the servants, Mary is also lashing out at her careless, unloving, absent parents by proxy.

    And even when Mary first arrives at Misselthwaite, there is still a real and ever-present danger that she will never be able to change, to emerge out of her shell (or to change enough, for at least in England, Mary has the opportunity to go outside and play/run, which was not possible in India due to the hot, stiflingly humid climate); many of the inhabitants of the manor, but especially Mrs. Medlock and Mr. Craven regard Mary, or seem to regard Mary the same way that her parents did, either not at all, or as a cumbersome, even loathsome burden. Without Martha, Dickon, and the influence of Martha's mother (Mrs. Sowerby), and of course, Ben Weatherstaff and the Robin (who is a bird, but might just represent the spirit of Colin's deceased mother), not much would likely have ever changed for Mary or within Mary. There might well have been some physical improvement of her health, but her mental health, her soul, would likely have remained for the most part sour and disagreeable.

    I have to admit that I do have a bit of a problem with the fact that so many of the adults portrayed in

    (even individuals like Martha and Susan Sowerby) keep bringing up the fact that Mary's mother was supposedly very physically attractive, and that in many ways, Mary is often judged negatively because she is plain, while her mother was considered very beautiful. However, Mary's mother does not in any way care about or for her daughter, and had, in fact, never wanted a daughter; her careless, unloving attitude (and that of her husband as well) is reflected in Mary's countenance, her whole being. Thus, even though Mrs. Lennox might have been physically sweet looking, she basically has a careless and unloving and massively sour (read ugly) soul, which is reflected in her daughter (both spiritually and physically).

    This "Norton Critical Edition" of

    (which seems to have been published in 2006) is to be most highly recommended, especially for anyone interested in both the novel (the narrative) and its historical contexts, diverse critical voices etc., as it provides not only the text proper (which is simply and utterly magical, of course), but also much supplemental information and materials about Frances Hodgson Burnett and her timeless literary classic. And although I do not think that this edition lists every piece of extant literary criticism on

    , there truly and fortunately is a goodly amount presented, as well as a solid, although not extensive selected bibliography (being a more than adequate starting point for serious academic study and research).

  • Shayantani Das
    Jun 29, 2011

    Except for the persistent India bashing, I loved this book. In fact Mistress Mary, I loved the ending so much that I forgive your English superiority complex. Next time you visit here though, allow me to take you on the ride across India, I hope your impression will change

  • Brian Yahn
    Sep 30, 2013

    The Secret Garden is a "lovely" story in every sense of the word. Primarily, it's about three kids: Mistress Mary, Dickon, and Master Colin--and how just thinking a little differently can change a person completely.

    There's a lot of subtle things Frances Hodgson Burnett does right: The way she relates the Garden to Colin's mother and how that affects his relationship with his father--and how all of these things have made him a horribly spoiled brat. That thinking a little differently, and getting

    The Secret Garden is a "lovely" story in every sense of the word. Primarily, it's about three kids: Mistress Mary, Dickon, and Master Colin--and how just thinking a little differently can change a person completely.

    There's a lot of subtle things Frances Hodgson Burnett does right: The way she relates the Garden to Colin's mother and how that affects his relationship with his father--and how all of these things have made him a horribly spoiled brat. That thinking a little differently, and getting some fresh air, and fixing up a Secret Garden can simultaneously fix up his life and his relationship with his father.

    Even though it packs a nice punch and does a lot of little things right, the story overall is a tough read. And it goes beyond just being dated and having awkwardly constructed sentences. It's more than the dialogue and the Yorkshire accent most of the characters speak with that makes what they're trying to say almost impossible to decipher for a modern English speaker.

    The pacing is awful. There really isn't any conflict. So it's REALLY hard to get into. And that's sad, because it really is a lovely tale.

  • Hailey (HaileyInBookland)
    Jul 26, 2014

    Love love love

    Also: counting this as my first BookTubeAThon read even if I read only 2 pages during the actual readathon, I NEED ALL THE BOOKS I CAN GET

  • Henry Avila
    Aug 17, 2016

    Two sickly, arrogant, lonely, neglected, little children, from wealthy families, both ten, cousins, live continents apart , Mary Lennox, in hot, steamy , colonial India, and Colin Craven, he in rainy, cold, Yorkshire, northern England, a cripple, just before the start of the First World War, they don't even known the other exists, but will soon, both like to show contempt to servants, by yelling at them, while giving orders . Mary is spoiled, unhappy, and angry, her beautiful mother, loves parti

    Two sickly, arrogant, lonely, neglected, little children, from wealthy families, both ten, cousins, live continents apart , Mary Lennox, in hot, steamy , colonial India, and Colin Craven, he in rainy, cold, Yorkshire, northern England, a cripple, just before the start of the First World War, they don't even known the other exists, but will soon, both like to show contempt to servants, by yelling at them, while giving orders . Mary is spoiled, unhappy, and angry, her beautiful mother, loves parties, doesn't look kindly at the plain offspring , father too busy also, helping govern the enormous colony, truth be told, they dislike the unlovable girl. Cholera strikes and both parents fall, the little orphan child, is not emotionally attached to either one, and never a single drop of tears is shed...Shipped off, as quickly as possible, by the authorities, to her uncle Archibald Craven, in England, Colin's father, owner of an ancient, family mansion, ( 600 year- old) Misselthwaite Manor, with a hundred, mostly unused rooms, a decade previously, Mr. Craven lost his wife, (Mary and Colin mothers were sisters ) he adored , in an accident, and never recovered emotionally, his face always sad and mournful. The lord of the manor, is a frequent traveler abroad, he must get away from his bedridden, weak boy, it pains him to look at the pitiful sight and mostly does, when Colin is asleep....Mary, after a long, boring, escorted sea voyage, arrives, eventually, and lives alone in an isolated part of the mansion, Martha, a teenager, her servant, the only person she talks to, gives information about a secret garden, Mrs. Medlock, the housekeeper, like everyone else, ignores the unattractive girl, and hides her far from others, just the hired hands are there, after a quick visit to see her strange uncle, he leaves for foreign lands. Poor little Mary, nothing to do, but stare at the furniture... exploring the the grounds of the estate, the nearby, unnatural moors, outside, and somehow, finds the secret garden... later, after hearing again, weird, wailing sounds, coming through the walls, in her room, the rather frightened Mary, gets up in the middle of the night, down the dark, long , sinister corridors, enters an unknown room, and discovers a pathetic, depressed boy, in bed, her cousin Colin, that no one mentioned....They become close friends, after a few minor disagreements, life begins in reality, for the two children, at Mary's urging, she gets Colin outside for fresh air, with the help of a third, Martha's younger brother Dickon, 12, who animals love, a hidden door , opened , showing the eerie, gloomy, mysterious, dying secret garden, locked for ten years, by Mr.Craven, something dreadful occurred there, brave Mary is delighted though, she wants a beautiful, garden, with colorful roses, live trees, growing plants, birds singing, and flying, bees humming, butterflies floating, rabbits jumping, squirrels climbing, crows cawing, brilliant flowers springing up in all sections of the Secret Garden..and people lying on the green grass, sightseeing, looking at the bluest of the blue, the sky above. They have hoes, the children, let the plowing and weeding begin...A children's classic, that can be read and enjoyed by adults, rejuvenation of the human spirit, with a simple act of planting a few seeds in the ground, yet more than just exotic flowers coming above the dirt, the most precious commodity on the Earth may also spring into existence, life for the soul.

  • Arah-Lynda
    Sep 05, 2016

    Originally published in 1911 The Secret Garden is a true children’s  classic.  One that adults should read as well.  

    Mary Lennox was born in India.  A plain little girl she was not wanted by her mother or father and consequently handed over to the servants to raise.  Because her Ayah and the other servants feared her mother would be angry if she was disturbed, Mary was consequently given her own way.  She soon became a bossy, nasty, little

    Originally published in 1911 The Secret Garden is a true children’s  classic.  One that adults should read as well.  

    Mary Lennox was born in India.  A plain little girl she was not wanted by her mother or father and consequently handed over to the servants to raise.  Because her Ayah and the other servants feared her mother would be angry if she was disturbed, Mary was consequently given her own way.  She soon became a bossy, nasty, little girl who was frail, yellow and most often angry.  When she was but 10 years of age both her parents and her Ayah succumbed to Cholera, leaving Mary alone with no-one to raise her.

    But Mary has an uncle who lives in England on the Yorkshire moors and she soon finds herself at Misselthwaite Manor.  Her Uncle lost his wife ten years ago to a tragic accident and since that time is rarely at the manor, choosing instead a life of solitude while travelling.  So once more Mary is left on her own, only this time without an Ayah.  Through talking and listening to Martha, a young servant at the manor, Mary soon learns about a mysterious secret garden.  A garden behind a locked gate that no-one has opened in ten years.   And what is the source of that plaintive crying that Mary hears from time to time and everyone else pretends they do not.

    A secret garden, a hundred room English Manor, the Yorkshire moors, a 12 year old Yorkshire boy bestowed with nigh on magical persuasion over the woodland creatures, a mysterious cry, lessons learned the hard way and the power of positive thinking.  There is plenty to love in this story that can be easily digested by young and old alike.

    It is a short read, so take a break, curl up and spend a couple of  hours with this charming children’s classic, guaranteed to fill you with wonder.  


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