My first Children’s classic book of the year – and you know how much I enjoy those! After reading Anne of Green Gables, I knew I wanted to read this book. Their titles are often said in the same sentence. However, I found this book to be lovely in its own right. Here are my thoughts!
Spoiler Free Review
Title: The Secret Garden
Authors: Frances Hodgson Burnett
Published: Vintage, 2012 (first published in 1911)
Pages: 364 – read through Librivox app.
When Mary becomes an orphan, she moves to Yorkshire to live in a mysterious Manor House with an Uncle she never knew she had before. Having freedom to roam, she wanders through the house and gardens, finding out more about herself, making friends, and uncovering the many secrets the Manor House seems to hold.
Okay, so I know you shouldn’t compare novels. There are all their own entities – but it’s difficult when two novels, written in similar time periods, are often thrown together like peas in a pod. Where I could see some similarities between this novel and Anne of Green Gables – small girl as protagonist, moving to new place and exploring new life – the similarities basically stopped there. This was very much its own story, with very different characters.
I enjoyed this novel. I’ve realised over the last year or so that I really enjoy Children’s classics, so I was glad to have another one under my belt. Though it followed some of the same lines as other stories, as I said before, this story was obviously much more setting driven, than plot. The sequences where Burnett describes the garden are both beautiful and a little repetitive. It is easy to see the author’s love of nature, and the significance gardens have meant to her. Apart from the very beginning of the book, the whole story is set around one country manor and it’s grounds, making it a very familiar and friendly place for the reader as you continued to read.
I wouldn’t recommend this novel to people who like very fast, plot driven narratives. This was a story very much based on it’s setting and the development of it’s small cast of characters. Mary, especially, goes through vast changes in the novel – extremely influenced by her upbringing of living with servants in India, she begins with higher-than-thou attitudes and a complacency that means she can to nothing for herself. Over time, I found she began to grow on me, as she changed and softened due to the relationships she made in the story, but it wasn’t an instant likening for me. It took quite a while for me to enjoy the character, which filtered into me enjoying the story too.
Overall, I found this story an enjoyable one, and I liked watching as the characters – Mary, Dicken (a boy from the moor who has a fantastic influence over nature), and others – interacted and learned from one another. I found the plot quite slow at times, until the end when the pieces were tied up nicely. This book had a definite emphasis on character development which was pleasing to watch.
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars!
Not 5 stars, because I found it to be quite slow and drawn out in parts, and I didn’t find Mary instantly likeable, but other than that a really nice Children’s classic to spend time with.
Alrighty, a question for you all! Which Children’s classic should I read next? Any recommendations? I don’t really know where to go next so any recommendations would be much appreciated. Happy reading!