The Secret Garden

by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Other authorsRenee Graef (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 1987

Collection

Description

Ten-year-old Mary comes to live in a lonely house on the Yorkshire moors and discovers an invalid cousin and the mysteries of a locked garden.

User reviews

LibraryThing member rainpebble
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett; {acquired in my youth}; Y/A; (5*)

I loved this book as a child, and it was so nice to revisit it as an adult. A perfect book to read on a cold, windy winter afternoon when nobody else is home. Your mind can escape to a lovely garden coming to life in the early spring. It inspired me to go for more walks no matter what the weather is like. I've read it to my children, to my grandchildren and hope to read it to my great grandchildren one day.
The story is set in the early 1900’s in India and England. Mary's parents have both died so she must move to England to live with her uncle who mainly travels or lives as a recluse. There are quite a few characters to become accustomed to in this book. There is Mary, of course and Dickon who becomes her special friend. Then there is Colin, Martha, Ben Weatherstaff, Mr. Craven, Mrs. Medlock, Dr Craven and Susan Sowerby. I believe my favorite was Dickon because I found him so interesting and he had such a sweet nature.
Mary finds a 'secret garden' that has been hidden away on the estate of her uncle for many, many years. Not having been cared for, it was quite overgrown and not very pretty. Mary wants to work in the garden caring for the plants and bringing it back to it's days of glory.
This tale is a story for children of all ages from younger than school age to ninety. If you've not yet read it, I highly recommend it to you. It is a tale, that once read, you will hold close to your heart.
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LibraryThing member kmulvihill
There are some books that every child must read, and this is one of them. And it is a great pleasure to continue to read this book again as an adult. The process of working in the soil and watching things grow, as children or adults, is the story celebrated in The Secret Garden. It reminds the reader why schools have playgrounds outdoors and what inspires so many people to explore this country's national parks. Is it no wonder that the man who discovered the Mariposa Grove in Yosemite Park, though diagnosed with a fatal illness before moving there, was able to live into his late 90's after living in a cabin among the Giant Sequoias? Frances Hodgson Burnett reminds each of us to reconnect with the living earth, thereby revitalizing ourselves and nurturing our souls.… (more)
LibraryThing member AnnieMod
I've always believed I had read this book as a child. I know I had read a version of it - but quite a lot of the elements do not fit into what the book ended up being - so either it was a condensed version (during the translation) or I really don't remember it that well.

It's a book full of magic - not the fantasy type but the magic of life, friendship and hope. And clean air. A girl that had grown up in India (and had always had her way there) and is shipped to England after the death of her parents, a boy that everyone believed to be so ill that he had almost never left his bedroom (and in the process convinced even himself that this is the case) and another boy that had grown up poor but free and has a knack for talking to animals - this does not sound like a regular group of kids that will get together but that's exactly what happens.

Of course there is a garden, locked up for 10 years and hidden from the world, there is an old gardener that never forgot the past, there is the mother of one of them that will come to represent the mother of all of them. And there is the old English mansion - that looks so dreary to Mary when she arrives from sunny India and that ends up being at least as interesting place as any.

Despite its good qualities, the book got on my nerves more than once - the naivete I can accept considering the age of the book but the repetitions were getting a bit too much. And resorting to a dream to drive the end of the story simply stole something from the magic of the book. The Yorkshire accent used by a lot of the characters takes a bit using to and I wonder if it was not part of my problem of the book - it is beautiful and interesting but it also slows down the story and at moments feel unnecessary.

The 2006 Folio edition features gorgeous color illustrations by Charles Robinson - with pictures that could be seen in the books of my childhood, with the images clear and not trying to be modern or chic - just pictures that match points of the story and tell you the same as the words but it a different media.

It's a book worth reading for the world of yesterday but I am not sure that it will be as alluring to the children of today as it was for the previous generations....
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LibraryThing member ctpress
“Where you tend a rose my lad, a thistle cannot grow.”

An enchanting novel for children and adults alike. Recently orphaned girl Mary come from India to live with her uncle at Misselthwaite Manor - the uncle ignores her begin a long travel abroad - she’s left to herself at the big house close the Yorkshire moor.

But when Mary discovers nature at the windy moor, a secret garden, her sick and secluded cousin Colin and the yorkshire boy Dickon a wonderful transformation sets in. Sour Mistress Mary, Quite Contrary - as they call her - begin to appreciate life again.

Friendship, fresh air and flora is all it takes. And a little magic.

“Sometimes since I've been in the garden I've looked up through the trees at the sky and I have had a strange feeling of being happy as if something was pushing and drawing in my chest and making me breathe fast. Magic is always pushing and drawing and making things out of nothing. Everything is made out of magic, leaves and trees, flowers and birds, badgers and foxes and squirrels and people. So it must be all around us. In this garden - in all the places.”
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LibraryThing member Cheryl_in_CC_NV
This read was, of course, a re-read. I wore out the copy I had as a child, with its lovely illustrations by Tasha Tudor. What's interesting is what a different, but still marvelous, experience it is, reading it again almost 4 decades later. I didn't remember the beginning bit taking place in India. I could've sworn Mary visited, and brought gifts to, Martha's family's cottage. I didn't remember the ending being so abrupt.

Oddly enough, my 'favorite' bit was learning about how to tell if trees and vines are 'wick' or dead. And that part was just as I remembered it.

I read it now with a bit of an eye towards issues. For example, there are some racist comments - but they're made in innocent ignorance and/or by people who are not nice. Another example is that great store is set by beauty, esp. Mary's initial lack of it - but it is made plain that beauty is a sign of physical and 'spiritual' health. The third example of an issue is spiritual health and Christianity - and I love Susan's speech near the end in which she refers to the Joy-Maker" who is known by many names the world over.

This edition does have a scholarly introduction. I have not read it nor do I plan to."
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LibraryThing member kaionvin
Rereading childhood favorites, you always run the risk corrupting that memory with adult judgment- but it's usually worth that risk for the flip-side... I hadn't read The Secret Garden in years, and it still simply doesn't disappoint.

On this rereading, I was really struck by the fact that it functions well as a wonderfully inverted subversive Sleeping Beauty* tale. The prince is a sickly-looking, cross girl who well earns her 'Mistress Mary Quite Contrary' . And the princess is a tantrum-throwing, spoiled brat boy. And the good fairy is a animal-loving 'commoner'. The king(dad) tries to protect the princess(Colin), by locking her(him) in ignorance, through detachment- but it is this 'protection' which leaves Colin crippled by his fear. The fairy is powerful, but can only give the tools- the prince brings a taste of the unknown to Sleeping Beauty as only he can as they are the equals. The taste (a kiss or the lure of the outdoors) that blossoms her awakening, breaches the veil of ignorance.

It is through nurturing nature, re-coaxing life into the garden that the characters allow nature to heal them (in a reversal of chopping down the protective briar hedge).

Simply sublime.

*Insert something about probably maybe not the rape-y parts, stuff about sexual awakening, maybe, unconscious archetypes of nature and Pan, etc.

As an additional note, as an adult, I find Hodgen's psychological understanding very provoking, and I'd point to it as a clue as to why The Secret Garden works so well today. (The 'back to nature... but we must tame it' works better metaphorically in this context than you'd find the obvious, but less-fitting, environmental message for today.)

As for criticism that Mary is abandoned as a character, I don't see it that way. Colin's still purposefully a bit prickly to the reader, just in the opposite orientation than before.
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LibraryThing member LindaWeeks
lovely story about the power of nature and nurture to restore and teach young and old
LibraryThing member Atsa
Brilliant story structure with Colin hidden in the house, and his widow dad away on trips all the time & Dicken with his animal friends & his sister Martha. Annoying main character, but she's supposed to be like that. It was interesting reading this as an Indian child reading and experiencing this story from the point of view of a colonizing British child who had ruled in India, sort of being her while reading this.… (more)
LibraryThing member hopeevey
I love this book! I think the author would have had a slightly stronger message if she hadn't gone into exposition on the power of focusing on the positive; the narrative carried that message very strongly all by itself. I cried at the end. I will be re-reading this one; it's like therapy in book form.
LibraryThing member gerglodek
Despite some flaws, namely Dickon, little brother of servant Martha, being absolutely flawless, and his mother (Mrs. Sowerby) being a bit too preachy about how having the right attitude solves your troubles, I think this is a great read for adults as well as kids. Two very troubled, but spoiled and bossy, children work out their own problems with only minor assistance from adults, and they make their own creative use of the small bits of help given by adults. For example, Mrs. Sowerby sends a skip rope for little Mary Lennox, who was recently orphaned in India and new to her uncle's large and lonely estate on the moors of England. A sour and demanding girl of seven, she has been accustomed to having every little thing done for, even being dressed, her by Indian servants, and slapping their faces whenever she's displeased. That won't fly in England. The skip rope gets Mary outside, exploring. She explores the house and discovers Colin, the hidden-away, invalid son of her uncle, a widower and world traveler who avoids his problems and his son simply by staying away. Little Dickon, an earthy boy at one with plants and animals, befriends Mary and Colin. The two miserable children not only learn to use their own brains to find their way, but they don't need magic, special powers, weapons, or spectacular external events to move the plot along. It is a story of inner transformation of these children, discovering and working with the quiet "magic" of Nature, using the stuff that they are made of as ordinary humans. Mary and Colin are also transformed by having met their match (each other) as nasty, demanding, spoiled, yet deeply wounded, kids. Mary is not about to be ordered around the way Colin orders his servants and nurse around, and if Colin likes having the company of another child for a change, he'll have to change. Very good writing as well as a good story.… (more)
LibraryThing member TheReadingMermaid
Very very close to the movie version that I fell in love with as a child. For a classic it is very easy to read and easy to follow. The story is full of magic and a child's wonder. Very entertaining and captivating. Highly recommend.
LibraryThing member foggidawn
When bad-tempered Mary Lennox is orphaned, she is taken from India to the moors of Yorkshire to live at her uncle Archibald Craven's lonely manor house. The estate holds more than one mystery for Mary to solve, but all of the mysteries hinge on the mysterious walled garden, locked up by Mr. Craven ten years ago. Can Mary find a way to get in? What will she discover there, if she does?

I think the thing that keeps me coming back to this book is that it can be read on so many different levels. It has a great plot that is perennially attractive to children -- what child doesn't long to solve a mystery and discover a secret place that is theirs alone? And if you go a little deeper, there's a lot of fascinating character development as Mary goes from someone completely unlikeable to a true heroine. There are interesting themes, like the healing power of nature, the danger of living up to negative expectations, and the importance of human connections. I'm always drawn to this book in the springtime, and I think I always will be, no matter how old I am. Readers of all ages will connect with this lovely story.
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LibraryThing member soylentgreen23
There is a lot to like about this children's classic: the set-up (Mary's family is all killed off during an outbreak of cholera in India - ouch! You don't have cold-hearted openings like that so often these days, and certainly not in this genre), the characterisations, the way that Hodgson Burnett attaches her story to the landscape of the Moors, the way that good life lessons are carefully disseminated without every becoming too cloying... and yet, because the ending was so well sign-posted by the halfway stage of the book, some sections did tend towards the tedious. Add to that the generally poor treatment meted out to the underclass (the poor, the gardeners, the household staff) and you end up with a book that it's easy to like and easy to be put off by. I'm glad I read it, and I would have no difficulty in recommending it to others, but there is a part of me that thinks that this book's time has been and gone.… (more)
LibraryThing member jmchshannon
The Secret Garden is a wonderful reminder of the healing power of nature, laughter, and love. It is an affirmation of the existence of magic as well as simply a beautiful story. The lessons told within are simple and yet profound and appropriate for everyone. This is anything but a children’s story.

The Secret Garden is one of those novels I read as a child but did not remember in its entirety. In fact, while I could recall the beginning of the story quite well, I could not dredge up any memories about how it ends. Knowing my younger self, this is indicative of the fact that I must not have enjoyed the story as much as others have. Flash forward thirty years, and my experience of The Secret Garden is much different this time around. What did not resonate with me as a child definitely hit home as an adult flirting with middle age.

There is something about Mary’s and Colin’s transformation that is soothing to the soul. The remedy to their ailments is so simple and yet so profound. Today’s society has lost its connection to nature and to a simpler lifestyle, but the benefits of such cannot be denied. The pleasures of life are numerous, but we have to take the time to notice them. Happiness truly is as simple as good friends, good food, and fresh air.

If you have not had the opportunity to read The Secret Garden as a child, all is not lost. It is one of those novels that loses nothing over time. In fact, as our lives become more complicated and stressful as we get older, The Secret Garden becomes more than a children’s novel but rather a cue to take a step back and remember the uncomplicated truths which make childhood so special. It opens the reader’s eyes to the magic that exists all around us all the time.
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LibraryThing member etxgardener
I've been on a roll this holiday season re-reading old children's classics, and I returned to this book with some trepidation fearing that it would be so saccharine sweet that I would need a countervailing insulin shot. Luckily I was wrong.

The story does not romanticize it's two main characters. Mary Lenox is an unloved spoiled brat living in India. when her parents die in a cholera epidemic. She is shipped off to live with her austere uncle in England. There she remains just as disagreeable as she was in India However, she is befriended by a young servant, Martha, who tells her about a secret garden on the estate. She finds the garden and with the help of Martha's brother Dickon , they start putting the garden together again.

One nigh Mary hears crying from down the hall & finds a secret bedroom (naturally) where a young boy she discovers is her cousin Collin is living. He is thought to be doomed to be a hunchback (why? we don't find that out except that these kinds of illnesses are a staple of Victorian fiction) He is also spoiled and fractious and largely ignored by his father who is in perpetual mourning for his mother.

The two become friends and Mary and Dicken take Collin out into the garden where he, of course learns that he isn't a cripple at all. The story shows how the power of both love and friendship can transform lives. A good moral lesson for today.
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LibraryThing member caseybp
One of the most heart-warming stories ever told.
LibraryThing member cyderry
Finally, a classic I actually enjoyed. I was looking for an easy book that I had on my e-reader while on vacation and this seemed like one that I could easily finish while not taking too much of my attention away from other activities - was I wrong! This story, though slow at the beginning, was totally enchanting and grabbed me until I finished. It's wonderful the way that the author had the children grow and mature as individuals while still keeping their innocence.

I was even lucky enough to see the movie right after I finished the book. The book was better!
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LibraryThing member katiekrug
I never read The Secret Garden as a child, though I do remember seeing two different film versions of it. I'm not sure if I would have liked this as a kid - I want to say no because even then I was too cynical to put up with this kind of treacly crap, but I did love Little Women and Anne of Green Gables and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn so who knows. But wow, at the tender age of 37, this one doesn't do much for me. It's kind of charming in the beginning but then gets very preachy. I had been enjoying Mary's development from a bratty sour puss into an energetic little girl but then the book becomes all about Colin who is really annoying. There is a bunch of weird, quasi-Christian Science stuff going on, and I can't understand why the awesome Sowerby family would be at all interested in these obnoxious rich people. And I can't understand why I thought this was going to get three stars from me. Definitely more like two. And the ending was weird. So. Very. Abrupt.… (more)
LibraryThing member Embejo
Loved loved loved loved it! I got an old second hand copy of this through the Swap Club, which I am so happy with. It is a 1956 hard cover reprint of the book originally published in 1911. There is something about old books. Not just the smell and feel of older books and their old fashioned font, but I mean books written a long time ago.

How I loved this happily ending and redemptive story! It was sweet and romantic and full of childhood. The children played and grew in a way that I would love for my own children to experience; from morning till evening under broad skies, imagining and industrious and playing up a great appetite and making bodies ready for peaceful sleep.

I’m so glad I have a copy of this one as I know it’s one I will enjoy again, and I look forward to reading it to the children too when they are a little older.
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LibraryThing member marcejewels
From my blog

What a sweet story. The children, Mary, Colin and Dickon are delightful, so genuine. I loved reading about the tantrums, creative minds, friendship, being brave and the 'magic'.

The best part of this book is that even though it was published in 1910 it is perfect for today also. I especially recommend for wealthy friends, celebrity children, children moving to a new culture and children that feel different for any reason. There is a message that adults will love and children will get in an exciting way without them feeling like they are learning something. Learning about the importance of being personable and positive.

The Secret Garden is so special and I think the reader can take unique significance from the experiences they had from the Garden, their very own shared secret. There are so many special moments and favourite scenes.

The Secret Garden is the old and new combined becoming their future. Just lovely.

A favourite quote of mine. Delightful, just shows how charming at times this is.......

'Is the spring coming?' he said. 'What is it like? You don't see it in rooms if you are ill.'

'It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine, and things pushing up and working under the earth, ' said Mary.
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LibraryThing member puckrobin
A classic for a reason, the Secret Garden is perhaps most interesting because two of the primary characters - Mary and Colin - begin as thoroughly unlikable little brats. Like the slowly blooming gardens they explore, the characters grow on the reader, a bit at a time, until - magically - you care about their triumphs and discoveries.

Very much a book of it's time, The Secret Garden contains many references that may seem inappropriate or bigoted now - particularly in the portrayal of Mary's attitude towards her servants in colonial India. In many ways, however, this is part of the value of the book - as a glimpse into a mindset and way of life that are no longer, and some insight into why we have - or in some cases have not yet sufficiently- turned our back cultural back on the colonial 'way of life'.
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LibraryThing member koalamom
Once you find the Magic - the Magic called Life - anything is possible.

Young Mary started her life unwanted and neglected. When her parents died, she scarcely mourned their passing; she felt nothing for them. She is sent to live with an uncle she never knew and it seems she never will - at first.

Left to her own devices in her uncle's house, she soon learns about the gardens and one in particular, one that is locked and the key buried, so no one can enter because of a horrible event that happened there. It makes Mary more determined to find the secret garden - and as if by magic, she does.

She also finds, hidden away in the house, a cousin, who is supposed to be ill and dying. He throws tantrums and makes himself sicker just to get what he wants. Mary wants none of that and defies him and in that defiance, she shows him the Magic.

He joins her in the life of the garden and grows strong along with Mary and the garden itself.

The Magic even touches his father - so long in mourning because of the event that made the garden be locked in the first place.

The Magic of Life wins again!
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LibraryThing member nordie
Read as a child, reread as an adult. Understood the message better as an adult (although ti was a little unsubtle at times!) but still enjoyed it.

Orphaned Mary returns to England from India, where she has been spoilt rotten by her now dead parents and servants.

She now lives, seemingly alone, in a large, rambling house where the servants are too busy to do everything for her, and soon has to learn that she needs to make her own entertainment.

Exercise outdoors soon begins to improve her health, making her less sallow, but stronger. She makes friends with both the old gardener and a robin, the latter breaking the secret place of "The Secret Garden". The garden was locked up on the death of her unknown aunt - she has yet to meet her uncle, who has been off wondering the world since the death of his wife.

She also becomes friends with Dicken, the brother of one of the housemaids and between them they start bringing the garden back to life.

Mary then finds out that she's not the only child in the house. Her cousin Colin is confined to bed, either because of, or resulting in him being a sick, weakly bad tempered child.

In secret, mary and Dicken take Colin to the secret garden and with attention, fresh air, exercise and the right food, Colin begins to gain his strength. Both he and Mary learn to share and be less pampered and stand up for themselves and what is right.

Colin's father returns to find Colin fit and healthy, running around. The Garden is open and nearly back to it's original state. He learns that perhaps he should lock things away (including looking after his son).
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LibraryThing member Breton07
"The Secret Garden" by Frances Hodgson Burnett is the story of a young girl from India who befriends Collin, the sickly son of Archibold Craven, lord of Missethwaite Manor, located in England.The girl's name is Mary, who has just left India after becoming orphaned by a terrible plague. She slowly pulls Collin out of his sickbed, and into radiant health. She does so by introducing him to his late mother's once-neglected walled garden.

I felt this classic was compelling and poignant. I loved the fact that the protagonist was a misfit. She held her own as a quintessential character, along with Collin and Dickon, the young gardener who helps her rescue the quiescent spirit of the garden itself.
Mary has an optimistic viewpoint, contrary to the views held by his physician, Dr. Craven, and Mrs. Medlock, the housekeeper. However, Collin is just as complex in his inner character, and his change is just as significant as Mary's.

I recommend this book to anyone who has known someone who is ill. It is the story of a child awakening to the power of optimism, friendship, intention, and care.

Breton W Kaiser Taylor
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LibraryThing member debmonn
One of my favorite children's stories ever. It is such a romantic, sad story. I re-read it at least once a year.

Publication

Nelson Doubleday/EveryChild's Bookshelf (1987), Edition: book club ed, Hardcover

Language

Original publication date

1910 (serial publication)
1911 (first publication in its entirety)

Physical description

8.3 inches
Page: 0.9514 seconds