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The Secret Passage

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  109 ratings  ·  15 reviews
Lonely and forlorn after their mother's death and their sudden arrival at Aunt Mabel's seaside boarding-house, John, Mary and Ben Mallory are unimpressed with their new life in England. But there are wonderful surprises in store for them when they discover a secret way into the grand and empty house next door. Soon all sorts of unexpected events will unfold as the siblings ...more
Paperback, 155 pages
Published September 27th 1979 by Puffin Books (first published 1963)
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3.65  · 
Rating details
 ·  109 ratings  ·  15 reviews

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V. Briceland
Dec 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Considering I was the child who spent hours banging at the basement paneling in my parents' house, hoping to find a hidden spring that would unlock a hitherto-undiscovered chamber, I would have adored Nina Bawden's The Secret Passage. A number of themes in this children's novel are old-fashioned enough that they wouldn't have been amiss in an E. Nesbit classic like The Railway Children—a trio of youths who've lost a parent, a forced relocation to somewhere exotic and strange, the titular secret ...more
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
Also published as "House of Secrets."
It was an OK summer read. I begin to see that Bawden's basic framework is taking kids from their normal environment with parents and sending them off to unknown eccentric relatives in creepy houses. I enjoyed it until the end brought too many felicitous events to be credible, one right after the other, like piling all the sweet decorations you have in the cupboard on the thick, sticky colonnade icing on top of plain vanilla cake. If she had held back the urge
The House of Secrets was written by Nina Bawden and was published in 1963 in England under the title The Secret Passage. The novel follows three siblings who have to move to Enlgland to live with their Aunt Mabel after their mother dies. Aunt Mabel lives in a boarding house and while living there, the children discover a secret passageway leading to the big house next door. This discovery leads them to discover a few different secrets.

The storyline was really simple and I did
Jul 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The more work of Bawden’s which I read, the more I am beginning to favour her children’s stories over her adult offerings. The last couple of the latter which I have read have been thoroughly disappointing. I was a little apprehensive when I began The Secret Passage, but I very much enjoyed it. The story is relatively short (only 155 pages in the lovely old Puffin edition I have), but it is so well written. The relatively simple story – three children living in Africa suddenly have to move to En ...more
Jun 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I like to lose myself in a children's novel after ploughing through literary sludge e.g. Jane Austen...for some light relief...& this tale from 1963 does the ever with Nina Bawden. The writing is perfectly-pitched at young adults & there are no wizards or dragons...just realistic, interesting adult characters & children who behave like normal children...with their imaginations given their head in this story of widows & orphans who find mutual support in troubled times... ...more
Oct 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this children's book from 1963 - but then with 3 children having to move to another country to live with an emotionless aunt, and with an empty house next door to secretly explore, what's not to enjoy?
Grace Turner
I think I must have read this before -- and either it was very long ago, or I was particularly unwell at the time, because every aspect of this story is something I had already half-constructed into what I thought was an original idea of my own. Nope! Just something forgotten from childhood lurking in my subconscious: a leopard swept away on a tree branch in a flash flood, a huge friendly sculptor named Abe who lives in the garden shed, a lonely aunt with a tragic past in a rickety old boarding ...more
Daniel R
Jan 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
Nina Bawden’s “The House of Secrets”, the same thing as "The secret Passage", kicks off with a trio of children from Kenya who arrive in England, curious of the lives lived there by the seemingly foreign people, which include their Aunt Mabel, with whom they are living with and help in her daily activities. Later, their curiosity leads them into questioning the abandoned house they call the “House of Secrets”.
I take interest in this book as it gives the reader a sense of suspense leading up to
May 19, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Synopsis copied from After their mother dies, siblings John, Mary, and Ben are forced to leave their home in Africa and move in with their Aunt Mabel. As the siblings attempt to adjust to life with their aunt, they befriend their troubled next-door neighbor and find themselves caught up in a dangerous adventure.

This is a young adult book I read a year or two ago; it was interesting and well written, enjoyable for an adult.

Jul 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is an excellent story. It's very intitutive and thoughtful. I love how the author explores the children's personailty. I love the old lady Miss Pin. Also all the delightful characters you meet are well developed. Althought it is a short story it might have been better if it had a stronger ending but otherwise I am looking forward to her other books.
Mary Ronan Drew
Oct 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Also called The House of Secrets
Blue'cutuck D
Jun 01, 2013 marked it as to-read
Apr 03, 2011 rated it liked it
3 1/2 stars. Love the beginning in Kenya, which reminded me that I did so much of my learning about the world from reading novels as a child.
Dec 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Nina Bawden's characters are so fresh and ferocious; I just love them. Her work seems to me so modern, or perhaps timeless is a better descriptor.
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Nina Bawden was a popular British novelist and children's writer. Her mother was a teacher and her father a marine.

When World War II broke out she spent the school holidays at a farm in Shropshire along with her mother and her brothers, but lived in Aberdare, Wales, during term time.
Bawden attended Somerville College, Oxford, where she gained a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics.

Her nove