The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

Published by: Williams Collins
Pages: 256
Date released: 01/06/2017
Date read: 26/05/2020

The plot centers around Mary Lennox, a young English girl who returns to England from India, having suffered the immense trauma by losing both her parents in a cholera epidemic. However, her memories of her parents are not pleasant, as they were a selfish, neglectful and pleasure-seeking couple. Mary is given to the care of her uncle Archibald Craven, whom she has never met. She travels to his home, Misselthwaite Manor located in gloomy Yorkshire, a vast change from the sunny and warm climate she was used to. When she arrives, she is rude, stubborn, and given to stormy temper tantrums. However, her nature undergoes a gradual transformation when she learns of the tragedies that have befallen her strict and disciplinarian uncle whom she earlier feared and despised. Once when he’s away from home, Mary discovers a charming walled garden which is always kept locked. The mystery deepens when she hears sounds of sobbing from somewhere within her uncle’s vast mansion. The kindly servants ignore her queries or pretend they haven’t heard, spiking Mary’s curiosity.

This is the moment I shock bibliophiles around the world when I say that this was the first time I’d read The Secret Garden, even with it being one of my favourite childhood films. The Maggie Smith version of course.  So, I decided that pushing 30, I should finally read it.

And I’m afraid to say, I was quite disappointed. That’s not to say I disliked it, I just found…nothing really happened. Obviously, I’ve said I have seen the movie, so it shouldn’t come to much of a surprise, they always fill a film with more exciting stuff than in the book.

A problem I have with previously serialized novels – such as this – is they are full of description but not enough going on. It used to be that novelists were paid by the word, so their weekly columns were chockablock full of adjectives in order to prolong the storytelling and earn more money. And I can’t say I blame them. It’s just, I was waiting for something really exciting to happen, and it just didn’t.

I’m glad I’ve read it and I can tick it off my classics list, but I think I’ll just go back to watching Maggie Smith.

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