Alison's Reviews > The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
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really liked it
Recommended for: gardeners; children

I seem to be the only woman I know who didn't read and cherish this book as a child. So I decided to see what all the fuss was about...

It took me a while to get in step with the tone of this book. The beginning was Jane Eyre-lite...Mary is orphaned and sent from India to England to live with her uncle, a stranger to her. The story progresses...and then....Mary's talking to a robin, and he's showing her where buried keys are. At that point, the mood shifted, and I sat back to enjoy not a literary masterpiece, but a child's fantasy adventure.

I really lost myself in the beauty of the Secret's natural beauty and the idea of its powers to cleanse our physical and spiritual sides. One review claimed that re-visiting this made the reader want to "get back into gardening"...and I felt that. It's a gardener's story--a tale for someone who enjoys the process, from planting the seeds to appreciating the beauty of the end product. I loved the vivid descriptions of all the particular plants, trees, and animals...

But if I'm being honest, this book got a bit intense for me. As Colin begins to feel the healing powers of the he begins to chant and sing his praises to the "magic"...(and on and on about "the magic"), I really began to feel the author's personal philosphies taking over. The introduction suggests that Burnett infused the comfort she found in Christian Science teachings after her son died into this story about the power of mind over body. Hmmmm.

I think what kept me from totally being sold on this novel is that I did try to read it as an adult. I was unable to enjoy the narrative literally and at face-value. I was digging in....always watchful for the deeper meaning. And Burnett's ideas were already at the surface, perhaps a little heavy-handedly at times.

Overall...a nice story, perhaps best enjoyed through the innocent, unaffected eyes of a child.
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Reading Progress

June 25, 2008 – Shelved
Started Reading
June 28, 2008 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-11 of 11 (11 new)

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Dottie You were not alone, Alison. I read this when younger but for some reason it didn't resonate with me as did other books whose underlying messages were, as I know now, no less buried in plain sight. I loved it for the story but it didn't become a special favorite as did other stories read before and after and enjoyed similarly. I still recommend it for all the reasons you delineated so well as to its enjoyable features. Very good review work here!

Alison Oh, thanks Dottie! That's very encouraging. I would have liked to have given this one 3 1/2 stars. There were some things that I loved about it, yet some things that seemed to detract from the other-wise beautiful story. I look forward to checking out the 1993 (?) movie? I particularly want to see the garden! And I have to admit, I've been thinking more about planting since I read this one.

message 3: by Ally (new)

Ally The brand new group - Bright Young Things - is nominating books to read in January & The Secret Garden is among them. Its the perfect place to discuss your favourite books and authors from the early 20th Century, why not take a look...

Uyen Vo I agree with you there; there isn't a lot to analyze; I couldn't find any deeper meaning. She comes out and tells you. And while that's fine, it wasn't as enjoyable as other books where major literary analysis is a part of the story itself.

Robert Gilbert I wouldn’t take the introduction too seriously as an interpretation of the book. It’s just one person’s idea of what the writer meant. My introduction was written by a woman whose critique of the writer and the work says more about herself than it does about the book.

Darlene Arsenault I'm another woman who had never read it Allison. It was recommended to me by a friend once I had told her how much I enjoyed The Little House on the Prairie series.

Sara McDonald I agree with you on two points: the descriptions of the garden are fantastic and alluring but the discussion of "magic" is a bit heavy. I'm in the magic chapters at the moment and I've had to set the book down for awhile. It has kind of lost its charm now in some regard. It's a pleasant read, mostly

message 8: by Maddy (new)

Maddy I agree also. I'm a child who chose to buy this book from schoolastic. I to fell I love with this book!

Darlene Arsenault As I mentioned above, I enjoy reading the Little House on the Prairie series, and
now I'm reading something along the same lines, books written about the prairies also, but the Canadian Prairies. The author is Janette Oke, and one of her books was made into a television series, produced by Michael Landon Jr.

message 10: by Krystal (new)

Krystal I know I know I should of read the book first but I just saw the movie only because I read a book called The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton and felt it had so many similarities to this. I knew I had seen the movie years and years ago. So I just rewatched it. Alot is similar between the two books and I'm now bashing Morton for copying. I'm just afraid that if I get this book from the library my mom will think I'm childish.

message 11: by Neha (new) - rated it 4 stars

Neha I agree so much about the Science; while reading the book it was enchanting till Colin started talking about the "Magic". Then all I wanted to do was skip to see what happened in the end because it was just a lot of words that not everyone (well in this case, me) believe in, and aren't even interested in. Other than that last part it's a lovely book, though i'd recommend it only for young kids like from 7-10 years.

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