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The Locked Garden

3.34  ·  Rating details ·  240 Ratings  ·  64 Reviews
It's the year 1900, the dawn of a new century and a chance for a new beginning for Verna and Carlie, whose mother died two years ago. They are headed to their new home—the grounds of an asylum for the mentally ill. Their father, a doctor, has been hired to treat its patients while the girls are under the strict and watchful eye of their aunt Maude. The towering asylum, the ...more
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published June 2nd 2009 by HarperCollins (first published January 1st 2009)
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Sep 28, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: younger, victorian
This is an okay story, but don't be fooled by descriptors such as forbidden mystery and enchantment everywhere and the ghostly-looking cover into expecting that this story will have any ghosts or enchantments. You will be disappointed. Like me, you may then feel duped into having read a book about feeeelings that you would otherwise have skipped.

Also, Whelan sometimes mixes verbal tenses in a way that is not exactly wrong, but confusing. Like, you think this the first day exploring the new home
Jun 08, 2010 rated it liked it
Interesting plot and very well-written but I thought for a book aimed at around 12-14 year olds the ending was too frustrating. Every time the two girls tried to make things right, their plans were thwarted by the grown ups and their obviously-stupid conventions and strict social rules. In the end the heroine pretty much said 'I guess we'd better just stay out of it and let the grown-ups figure it out - I'm sure eventually they'll work it out for themselves' and that was it. I felt like the whol ...more
Apr 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The year is 1900. Two years after the death of their mother, twelve-year-old Verna Martin and her six-year-old sister, Carlie, leave their home in the city. They are moving with their father, a psychiatrist, to an asylum in the countryside that is testing out new ideas for the treatment of the mentally ill. Their strict Aunt Maude, who has cared for them since their mother's death, accompanies them.

Much to Verna's surprise, the asylum is a lovely place, with trees, flowers, and animals. And the
Aug 18, 2012 rated it liked it
Definitely not my favorite Gloria Whelan novel. It was alright, just not as moving or engaging as her other books, many of which are outstanding. I think the description is pretty misleading, too, as there is really no big "mystery" to this story. The ending was fairly ambiguous, as well, so I wonder if there will be a sequel. If so, I will read it because I like closure, not because I'm anxiously anticipating it. I also really wish the author would provide a bibliography. I'm curious about her ...more
Sep 07, 2009 rated it did not like it
Worst. Narrative. Voice. Ever. Supposed to be from the POV of a spunky young girl whose family has come to live in a mental asylum in the late 1800s/early 1900s -- solid premis, right? But the voice is so horribly dull and explanatory that it sucked the life out of the whole thing. Did not finish, shame on me.
Mar 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
The cover of these book was intriguing. I was expecting it to be like The Secret Garden or a mystery, but the name and cover of the book really only showed up in one chapter. It never picked up speed or surprised me, just kept going at the same pace, nothing more. The only suprise was the ending. I am still shocked I finished the book the ending was so bad. I was just like, "Is there another book?", "Wait, that's it". It just stopped so abruptly, like my book didn't have the ending. Really disap ...more
Bethany Ruccolo
Jan 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
Lessons in emotional manipulation...apparently you can treat children however you want to as long as you tell them you love them! A deceitful cover, deceitful because it made me believe this book was more interesting than it actually was, and an anti-climatic ending. Oh, and thank you for glossing over the decades of degradation and abuse that patients of institutions endured up until the end of the 20th century as if the worst things that happened to these people were "they were locked in a roo ...more
Feb 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book! I've read it before awhile ago and it was nice to reread it. I wish there was a sequel.
i was mostly drawn to this book because of the setting. you KNOW i love a book that's set within close proximity to an insane asylum. BUT i realized that i like asylums best when they're abandoned, run-down, and preferably haunted. the asylum in this book was none of those things; in fact, it was downright cheerful. the "locked garden" idea was tantalizing (i was imagining a dark and creepy secret garden), but it ended up being more of a metaphor for the status of one's heart: is your heart a lo ...more
Jun 13, 2009 rated it liked it
he Locked Garden is set in the year 1900, and is primarily the story of two sisters: Verna, age 12, and Carlie, age 6. After the recent death of their mother, the girls move with their father, who is a physician, to a new home located on the grounds of an insane asylum where he will be given the opportunity to test his theories of treating mental illness with medication. Joining the family in their journey is Aunt Maude, their maternal aunt, who seems determined to constantly remind the children ...more
Eva Mitnick
Aug 11, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: children
In 1900, Verna and her little sister Carlie move with their father to a small house on the grounds of an asylum for the mentally ill, where he has been hired to work as a doctor. Unfortunately for the girls, their ill-tempered Aunt Maude goes with them – their mother died two years ago, and Aunt Maude has been caring for them ever since.

Verna and Carlie both love the gorgeous grounds surrounding the asylum and soon make friends with several inmates, including young Eleanor, who has been hired to
Gabs {My Full Bookshelf Reviews}
3.5 stars.

This book was really interesting. I liked it a lot. It seemed like the majority of the people who didn't like this book didn't like it because the title was misleading; so, knowing that it was, I was able to enjoy the story a lot more. However, there were a few things that made it not quite 4 stars worthy. I'll get to those in a minute.

First off, what I enjoyed about the book: Eleanor. Her backstory, her personality, her battle with depression, and her relationship with Aunt Maude. It
Jul 23, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
The loss of their mother and then the move to a new home so that their father (Edward Martin) could work at a new asylum, left twelve year old Verna and her younger sister, six year old Carlie (Caroline) to be looked after by their stern Aunt Maude. When the new help (Eleanor Miller), a patient at the asylum, started to become close to the girls, Aunt Maude became jealous of the relationship and started to take an even meaner approach to dealing with Eleanor and the children. Between the cruelty ...more
Nov 18, 2012 rated it liked it
This is a very well-written book about a young girl whose family moves to the grounds of an asylum in the early 1900s. Her psychologist father, recently widowed, hires a patient to serve as a housekeeper and nanny. The book centers around the relationship between his daughters and the housekeeper as the housekeeper recovers from her psychological problems.

This book is beautifully written, but it has two problems: one, the book is nothing like the cover suggests. When I picked it up, I expected a
Ms. Yingling
Jul 30, 2012 rated it liked it
Verna and her sister Carlie move with their physician father to Michigan in 1900, where he has accepted a post at an insane asylum in the wake of their mother's death. Their stern and demanding Aunt Maude also comes with them, and the girls settle in with the help of Eleanor, a girl recuperating from melancholia. The girls have learned to deal with the absence of their mother, but Maude has not, and feels that the girls like Eleanor more than they like her, so is very mean. The father tries to a ...more
12 year old Verna and 6 year old Carlie move with their father and aunt to the grounds of a mental institution in northern Michigan. The year is 1900, and their father is a well-known psychiatrist who has radical ideas about the improvement of mental health. The children enjoying playing on the beautiful grounds and get to know the patients who are well enough to be outside and work, though Verna wonders about the patients in the locked ward and how they will ever get better by being locked up. ...more
Apr 03, 2010 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book right up until the end where it left me feeling unresolved. Is there a sequel I don't know about?

Nonetheless, I found it engaging. I appreciated looking at mental illness through the eyes of a twelve-year-old girl and following her decision making process.

I also especially enjoyed the author's note at the end about her inspiration for the novel and look forward to doing further research about the care of those with mental illness in the 1900s.

However, I think more could have
Susan  Dunn
Aug 11, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: j-fiction
This was a quick read, and definitely a girl book, with a unique perspective on mental illness and its treatment. Verna and her younger sister Carlie and their father move to Michigan after their mother's death. Their father is a doctor, and will be working with patients at the asylum there. The girls think that the asylum will be a scary and depressing place, but it's not at all. There are beautiful grounds, gardens, fountains, and lots of nice people - both patients and staff. One young woman ...more
Miss Amanda
gr 4-6 166pgs

1900 Michigan. After her mother dies of typhoid, Verna's father takes a job as a doctor at an asylum. At first, Verna and her younger sister Carlie are unhappy to be there, but they learn to love the woods and gardens surrounding the hospital. When Eleanor, a recovering patient, starts working at their house as a maid, Verna and Carlie find her a lot easier to get along with than their strict, solemn Aunt Maude. When their aunt becomes jealous and causes Eleanor to be sent away, the
Jun 03, 2009 rated it liked it
Whelan writes lovely, quiet tales of girls planted into foreign settings. In Listening for Lions, our heroine is taken to a wild game preserve in Africa. In her newest novel for children, Verna and her sister Carlie go to live on the grounds of a turn-of-the-century insane asylum, where their widowed father has a new job. They quickly learn to love exploring the grounds--especially when it gets them out from under the thumb of their domineering Aunt Maude. When Eleanor, a patient from the asylum ...more
This book sounds much more exciting than it really is. There wasn't much of a plot, and the ending was too abrupt, with no real resolution. It was a little interesting to learn about the treatment of the mentally ill at this time, but even that was not explored very fully. The main characters do a lot of conniving and lying, which--problematically--results in everything working out neatly and with no negative consequences. I feel like their intentions could have been carried out in a less duplic ...more
Oct 08, 2009 rated it liked it
Two girls move with their psychologist father and their aunt to the grounds of an asylum in the year 1900. Their father's theories on treating mentally ill patients are ahead of their time, and the asylum itself is a welcoming, warm place. When a patient begins working for them as a housekeeper, the girls adore her, but Aunt Maude is jealous and bitter, continually finding ways to demean Eleanor. Readers should be warned that this book has considerably less action and adventure than Whelan's oth ...more
Aug 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
Even though I just finished the it last night, I can't remember half the names. Ok, it could be me, not the book, which is about a family whose father works at a home for the mentally ill, or home for the insane as they were called around the turn of the nineteenth century. The daughters in the family form a strong bond with a patient who works for them. But a couple of strong-willed authority figures bully the young woman until she falls once more into a severe depression. The daughters (and I ...more
Mr. Steve
This was one book that I wasn't able to put down. I was totally drawn in by the two daughters as they tried to move on from their mother's death, even with their aunt constantly reminding them of it. I thought the father was multidimensional, sympathetic and believable. Even the aunt, who, through her words and actions, alienates everyone in the story, makes a case for our sympathy. The author was very tasteful with her descriptions of the patients in the asylum, avoiding what many authors have ...more
Aug 04, 2009 rated it liked it
I liked this book so much...until the end. This is the story of two sisters, their father (a widower) and their dead mother's sister who move to an insane asylum in New York. It's the story of dealing with a parent's death, and people trying to slowly reform asylums. However, the ending seemed like such a let down. I don't know if Whelan was hoping to write a sequel, or whether it was supposed to be so open-ended. I didn't enjoy it.
Apr 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
HarperCollins ARC

Hats off to Ms. Whelan in writing a children's book treating mental illness as just another illness requiring treatment. Set in the times of asylums I was pleased the story portrayed the mental health asylum as a good place - a place where people got better and worked at the normal activities of any community - a place where the mentally ill were treated with respect. The characters were well developed and believable. A gentle story of friendship and acceptance.

Jun 21, 2012 rated it liked it
I thought the book was interesting and a quick read. However, I'm not sure about the topic of mental illness for the intended age group of this book. It's not that I'm opposed to bringing up the subject, but I think the way it was handled it would cause more confusion than clarity for a child. Also, I wasn't a big fan of the ending... very abrupt... I actually read straight on to the Author's Note thinking it was the next chapter, because I hadn't realized that the story had ended.
Jun 09, 2016 rated it liked it
This sweet children's story of life in the Great Lake states in the early 1900's drew me in. The Compassionate and spunky characters do things we may have wished we had courage to do. Sometimes a nice children's story makes a pleasant and relaxing read. This was one of those.
(I also enjoyed the fact that the author & the inspiration for the story both come from Michigan. )
Adelaide Marker
Jun 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Just imagine. Here you are living in a home with a girl that you love and an Aunt who doesn't. What would you do. Verna and Carlie found themselves in this situation. It hurt their feelings when Aunt Maud bullied Eleanor. The girls tried hard to make up for Maud's treatment to Eleanor. they wanted to teach Maud a lesson: Even though somebody completely sane doesn't mean they don't have feelings.
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Gloria Whelan is the best-selling author of many novels for young readers, including Homeless Bird, winner of the National Book Award; Friutlands: Louisa May Alcott Made Perfect; Angel on the Square and its companion, The Impossible Journey; Once on this Island, winner of the Great Lakes Book Award; Farewell to the Island; and Return to the Island. She lives with her husband, Joseph, in the woods ...more
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