Love love loveAlso counting this as my first BookTubeAThon read even if I read only 2 pages during the actual readathon, I NEED ALL THE books I CAN GET Two worst things as can happen to a child is never to have his own way or always to have it As a child, I read this book at least four or five times, along with Frances Hodgson Burnett s other childhood stories about Sarah Crewe Little Princess and Cedric Lord Fauntleroy They represented a rite of passage for me as a person and as a reader There is magic involved in coming of age stories where children strive to find the kind of life they are meant to live, against all odds, and I felt deeply satisfied each time I closed one of those books, knowing that the protagonists had once again made it through various challenges to live a better, natural and fulfilled life.
So far, so good Some childhood classics are better left alone later, signifying a certain phase that can only be demystified by rereading, leading to bitter disappointment and loss of the initial enchantment I hadn t touched The Secret Garden for decades, as I feared the slightly exaggerated, dramatised plot might put me off, and destroy the magic of my memory But then I happened to discuss a phenomenon among students in a wealthy, over privileged area Many children and teenagers appear phlegmatic, angry, frustrated, lacking initiative to learn and develop, and they demand unreasonable attention without showing any willingness to commit to tasks themselves We could not make sense of it, seeing that these students had everything they needed, and , and met with no restrictions or boundaries from their parents Shouldn t they be happy But they aren t They are among the most neurotic, anxious children I have ever met.
That s when The Secret Garden came to my mind again, an early case study of childhood neglect in wealthy environments, in which children s physical and material needs are met, but their psychological development is completely left untouched In The Secret Garden, it is the poor, but well raised and deeply loved local boy who shows the spoiled, unhappy upper class children how to take on a responsible role for their life, and how to make active and positive decisions rather than throwing fits to let others step in and take over.
Children need boundaries, and nurturing, and meaningful connections to their surroundings If they are treated with fear and submission, they will turn into tyrants to see how far they can go before they receive some kind of direct attention, negative or positive If they are handled with too much severity, they will duck and hide, and develop chameleon like survival strategies To create a happy, mature, and responsible human being, a balance between rights and duties must be struck, with limits the child knows it cannot overstep without facing consequences, and with areas of creative experimentation, where future freedom of choice can be safely practised.
Just like a flower in a garden, a child needs both space, time and air, and a lot of nurturing, to blossom I am grateful for the connection I found between my childhood reading pleasure and the everyday worries I face in my profession A smile, a word of encouragement, a nudge in the right direction, all the small signs that show students that their teachers believe in their power to achieve great things that s the magic of everyday life And giving in to their tantrums is not helping those sensitive plants grow It is stifling their development When they claim they are too tired or bored to read The Secret Garden, and prefer to watch a movie version if at all , they are in dire need of overcoming the obstacle of long term under stimulation than the protagonists of the story itself They need to be trained to love reading just like the two unhappy children in the mansion needed to be trained to show interest and care for the garden Responsibility and care are acquired skills I first read this wonderful and evocative absolute and utter gem of a story at around the age of twelve and it was likely one of the first longer novels I read entirely in English, not counting those books read entirely for school And I simply adored Frances Hodgson Burnett s The Secret Garden when I read it as a young teenager or rather, a tween , I continued to love it when I reread it multiple times while at university, and I still massively loved the novel when I reread the story for the Children s Literature Group in 2011 and I much continue to love it, having reread it at least twice or so since then And indeed I honestly do think that I have actually enjoyed The Secret Garden even as an adult than the times I read the novel when I was younger and that is definitely saying an awful lot For when I first read The Secret Garden as a young teenager, I was certainly much enchanted by the garden and of course, the Robin , and really liked and enjoyed reading about the Sowerbys, but I did kind of consider both Mary and Colin as somewhat too spoiled and selfish I understood their problems and indeed felt empathy, but I also felt than a bit annoyed at and by them, something that I certainly did not experience as much during my adult rereads Because as an adult reader, I actually and firmly believe that most, if not even all of both Mary s and Colin s problems and behavioural quirks be they emotional or physical were and are the result of parental abandonment and emotional neglect maybe even abuse They act and react towards the world the way the world or at least how most of the world has always acted and reacted towards them And without the garden, but also without characters like Martha, Susan and Dickon Sowerby, without Ben Weatherstaff and the Robin, there would never have been any change in and for Mary or at least, not ever enough change , and by extension, there would never have been any change in and for Colin and his father either.
Now one interesting and thought provoking fact presented in The Secret Garden is that there actually seems to be a real and almost palpable absence of nurturing father figures throughout except maybe Dickon, but he is just a boy and in many ways resembles a Pan like nature deity, and Ben Weatherstaff really is too old and curmudgeonly to be considered nurturing and fatherly We do have quite a number of nurturing mother figures portrayed who aid Mary, and later Colin in their recovery Susan and Martha Sowerby, and even Mary later becomes somewhat of a motherly and nurturing figure towards Colin , but we never see or hear much about a Mr Sowerby he is a complete nonentity And while indeed much is made of the fact that Mary Lennox mother did not seem to want her child a fact that is rightfully criticised , that Mr Lennox did not trouble himself much about his daughter either, while mentioned briefly, is also seemingly accepted as an acceptable societal given Also that Mr Craven has spiritually and emotionally totally abandoned Colin, and cannot stand to even see him when he is awake just because his son s eyes supposedly remind him of the boy s dead mother, while this is indeed noted in The Secret Garden, his rather vile and nasty attitude and behaviour towards Colin, towards his son is not at least in my humble opinion subject to nearly the same amount of harsh criticisms that Mary s emotional and spiritual abandonment by her mother is And while I do realise and even understand that the death of Mr Craven s wife was traumatic for him, both Mr Carven s and Mrs Lennox actions, or rather their lack of love and acceptance towards their children have had the same horrible psychological and psychosomatic consequences, basically turning both of them into emotional cripples, and Colin into a hysterical hypochondriac who thinks he has a crooked back The Secret Garden clearly and lastingly demonstrates that children no that anyone can only show love, can only be lovable, if they have experienced love themselves In the beginning of the novel, Mary is described as tyrannical, unpleasant, thoroughly unlovable and also as somewhat odd But how can Mary know anything about love, if she has never experienced love Her parents certainly do not seem to want her, and she has basically been abandoned to the care of servants, who have also been instructed to keep Mary out of the way as much as possible and in her innermost soul, Mary likely also realises this and much and rightly resents this Mary s temper tantrums towards her Ayah and other servants, her desire to always get her own way, are not merely Mary imitating the behaviour she witnesses among the ex pat community in India although that likely also has a major part to play I believe that in many ways, the servants also act as representatives of her absent parents, and by lashing out at the servants, Mary is also lashing out at her careless, unloving, absent parents by proxy.
And even when Mary first arrives at Misselthwaite, there is still a real and ever present danger that she will never be able to change, to emerge out of her shell or to change enough, for at least in England, Mary has the opportunity to go outside and play run, which was not possible in India due to the hot, stiflingly humid climate , for many of the inhabitants of the manor, but especially Mrs Medlock and Mr Craven regard Mary, or seem to regard Mary the same way that her parents did, either not at all, or as a cumbersome, even loathsome burden And without Martha, Dickon, and the influence of Martha s mother Mrs Sowerby , and of course, Ben Weatherstaff and the Robin who is a bird, but might just represent the spirit of Colin s deceased mother , not much would likely have ever changed for Mary or within Mary There might well have been some physical improvement of her health, but her mental health, her soul, would likely have remained for the most part sour and disagreeable and stagnated Finally, I do have to admit that I have a bit of a problem with the fact that oh so many of the adults portrayed in The Secret Garden and even inherently positive individuals like Martha and Susan Sowerby keep bringing up the fact that Mary s mother was supposedly very physically attractive, and that in many ways, Mary is often judged negatively because she is plain, while her mother was considered very beautiful However, Mary s mother does not in any way care about or for her daughter, and had, in fact, never wanted a daughter, and in my opinion, her careless, unloving attitude and that of her husband as well is reflected in Mary s countenance, her whole being Thus, even though Mrs Lennox might have been physically sweet looking, she basically has a careless and unloving and massively sour read nastily ugly soul, which is in my opinion reflected in her daughter both spiritually and physically And just to further point out that this here Norton Critical Edition of The Secret Garden which seems to have been published in 2006 is to be most highly recommended, especially for anyone interested in both the novel the narrative and its historical contexts, diverse critical voices etc.
, as it provides not only the text proper which is simply and utterly magical, of course , but also much supplemental information and materials about Frances Hodgson Burnett and her timeless literary classic And although I do not think that this edition lists every piece of extant literary criticism on The Secret Garden, there truly and fortunately is a goodly amount presented, as well as a solid, although not extensive selected bibliography most definitely a than adequate starting point for serious academic study and research.
Two sickly, arrogant, lonely, neglected, little children, from wealthy families, both ten, cousins, live continents apart , Mary Lennox, in hot, steamy , colonial India, and Colin Craven, he in rainy, cold, Yorkshire, northern England, a cripple, just before the start of the First World War, they don t even known the other exists, but will soon, both like to show contempt to servants, by yelling at them, while giving orders Mary is spoiled, unhappy, and angry, her beautiful mother, loves parties, doesn t look kindly at the plain offspring , father too busy also, helping govern the enormous colony, truth be told, they dislike the unlovable girl Cholera strikes and both parents fall, the little orphan child, is not emotionally attached to either one, and never a single drop of tears is shedShipped off, as quickly as possible, by the authorities, to her uncle Archibald Craven, in England, Colin s father, owner of an ancient, family mansion, 600 year old Misselthwaite Manor, with a hundred, mostly unused rooms, a decade previously, Mr Craven lost his wife, Mary and Colin mothers were sisters he adored , in an accident, and never recovered emotionally, his face always sad and mournful The lord of the manor, is a frequent traveler abroad, he must get away from his bedridden, weak boy, it pains him to look at the pitiful sight and mostly does, when Colin is asleep.
Mary, after a long, boring, escorted sea voyage, arrives, eventually, and lives alone in an isolated part of the mansion, Martha, a teenager, her servant, the only person she talks to, gives information about a secret garden, Mrs Medlock, the housekeeper, like everyone else, ignores the unattractive girl, and hides her far from others, just the hired hands are there, after a quick visit to see her strange uncle, he leaves for foreign lands Poor little Mary, nothing to do, but stare at the furniture exploring the the grounds of the estate, the nearby, unnatural moors, outside, and somehow, finds The Secret Garden later, after hearing again, weird, wailing sounds, coming through the walls, in her room, the rather frightened Mary, gets up in the middle of the night, down the dark, long , sinister corridors, enters an unknown room, and discovers a pathetic, depressed boy, in bed, her cousin Colin, that no one mentioned.
They become close friends, after a few minor disagreements, life begins in reality, for the two children, at Mary s urging, she gets Colin outside for fresh air, with the help of a third, Martha s younger brother Dickon, 12, who animals love, a hidden door , opened , showing the eerie, gloomy, mysterious, dying secret garden, locked for ten years, by Mr.
Craven, something dreadful occurred there, brave Mary is delighted though, she wants a beautiful, garden, with colorful roses, live trees, growing plants, birds singing, and flying, bees humming, butterflies floating, rabbits jumping, squirrels climbing, crows cawing, brilliant flowers springing up in all sections of The Secret Garden.
and people lying on the green grass, sightseeing, looking at the bluest of the blue, the sky above They have hoes, the children, let the plowing and weeding beginA children s classic, that can be read and enjoyed by adults, rejuvenation of the human spirit, with a simple act of planting a few seeds in the ground, yet than just exotic flowers coming above the dirt, the most precious commodity on the Earth may also spring into existence, life for the soul.
On another level, I really believe that some people are only as sick as they think they are Working in the healthcare field, it s obvious to me that some people find it quite easy to take the role of a victim Again, this book speaks Truth concerning the value of attitude and perspective in overcoming perceived problems and finding out that they weren t as bad as you thought they were.
Actual rating 4.
5 5 stars.
I have vivid memories of reading this renowned children s classic when I was very young I can distinctly recall my shock at reading a book with such an initially dislikable protagonist, the likes of which I had not yet discovered during my few years of reading I was intrigued by the petulant Mary Lennox and was enchanted by her discovery of The Secret Garden This, I believe, was my my first introduction to dark and brooding main characters, and probably even honed my later love for female Gothic fiction, so I am eternally indebted to it, for that.
It has now been many years since my young repeated readings of this book and I tried to divorce these emotions from my present reading Whether or not I was successful I could not say, but this still entranced me just as much as it did as a child This book has always held a nostalgic place in my heart but I now love it even for the joy it continued to bring to my adult self.
One Of The Most Delightful And Enduring Classics Of Children S Literature, The Secret Garden By Victorian Author Frances Hodgson Burnett Has Remained A Firm Favorite With Children The World Over Ever Since It Made Its First Appearance Initially Published As A Serial Story In In The American Magazine, It Was Brought Out In Novel Form In The Plot Centers Round 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 The Gloomy Yorkshire, A Vast Change From The Sunny And Warm Climate She Was Used To When She Arrives, She Is A 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 The Secret Garden Appeals To Both Young And Old Alike It Has Wonderful Elements Of Mystery, Spirituality, Charming Characters And An Authentic Rendering Of Childhood Emotions And Experiences Commonsense, Truth And Kindness, Compassion And A Belief In The Essential Goodness Of Human Beings Lie At The Heart Of This Unforgettable Story It Is The Best Known Of Frances Hodgson Burnett S Works, Though Most Of Us Have Definitely Heard Of, If Not Read, Her Other Novel Little Lord Fauntleroy The Book Has Been Adapted Extensively On Stage, Film And Television And Translated Into All The World S Major Languages In , A Japanese Anime Version Was Launched For Television In Japan It Remains A Popular And Beloved Story Of A Child S Journey Into Maturity, And A Must read For Every Child, Parent, Teacher And Anyone Who Would Enjoy This Fascinating Glimpse Of Childhood One Of The Most Delightful And Enduring Classics Of Children S Literature, The Secret Garden By Victorian Author Frances Hodgson Burnett Has Remained A Firm Favorite With Children The World Over Ever Since It Made Its First Appearance Initially Published As A Serial Story In In The American Magazine, It Was Brought Out In Novel Form In Where, you tend a rose, my lad, a thistle cannot grow.
originally published in 1911 The Secret Garden is a true children s classic One that adults should read as well Mary Lennox was born in India A plain little girl she was not wanted by her mother or father and consequently handed over to the servants to raise Because her Ayah and the other servants feared her mother would be angry if she was disturbed, Mary was consequently given her own way She soon became a bossy, nasty, little girl who was frail, yellow and most often angry When she was but 10 years of age both her parents and her Ayah succumbed to Cholera, leaving Mary alone with no one to raise her.
But Mary has an uncle who lives in England on the Yorkshire moors and she soon finds herself at Misselthwaite Manor Her Uncle lost his wife ten years ago to a tragic accident and since that time is rarely at the manor, choosing instead a life of solitude while travelling So once Mary is left on her own, only this time without an Ayah Through talking and listening to Martha, a young servant at the manor, Mary soon learns about a mysterious secret garden A garden behind a locked gate that no one has opened in ten years And what is the source of that plaintive crying that Mary hears from time to time and everyone else pretends they do not.
A secret garden, a hundred room English Manor, the Yorkshire moors, a 12 year old Yorkshire boy bestowed with nigh on magical persuasion over the woodland creatures, a mysterious cry, lessons learned the hard way and the power of positive thinking There is plenty to love in this story that can be easily digested by young and old alike It is a short read, so take a break, curl up and spend a couple of hours with this charming children s classic, guaranteed to fill you with wonder.