Friday, January 25, 2013

friday book review: a classic children's novel

At the end of December I posted about wanting to read more classics this year, at least 12 novels that have stood the test of time, and are still in print and popular decades since they were first published.
I had some GREAT suggestions, and one was from Lyndel, who proposed The secret garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, first published in 1911.

I finished reading  Secret Garden this morning and I loved it. I was vaguely familiar with the plot, only because about a hundred years ago when I read all the Noel Streatfield novels about acting, dancing and singing children, I read one called The painted garden, which was was about a child actor who plays Mary in a film version of the story. I could hardly remember anything about it though, so this was a lovely surprise.

Orphaned, sickly, horrible ten year old Mary is sent from India to live with her rich, reclusive,embittered, widowed Uncle who lives in a one hundred roomed mansion with a fleet of servants, in Yorkshire. Mary forms a friendship with a nature loving village boy, Dickon, and her sickly young cousin, Colin. The three discover a secret garden in the grounds of the mansion and make it their own. It is a sentimental tale that holds up well, and especially if you are a gardener you will love it too. Lots of planting of foxgloves and weeding and rose pruning and saving a lost garden and so on.

I liked it much more than Under Wildwood ( also finished this week) which was OK, but I personally didn't enjoy it as much as Wildwood. I missed the animal characters and the bandit gang and others from the first book. This was also part two of what I'm assuming is a trilogy and there were lots of unresolved plot details. And I know it is a novel, and not real but there is something really unsettling to me about Curtis' parents not knowing where their son is and their grief and terror
which is totally glossed over. No, I shouldn't real children's books, I know, if I can't take off my
 parenting hat and just go with it......

Next book to read is Tracey Chevalier's new novel, The last runaway. I love her books, so itching to begin this one.


  1. Glad you liked Secret Garden♥

  2. Secret Garden was another childhood favourite of mine. How lucky you are to be able to read it all new and fresh!
    I did like Under Wildwood; I thought the plot was more involving than in the original. But the plot point about how and why the parents leave their daughters in the orphanage was so silly, it set the tone as unbelievable right at the start. In which case, you are free to disregard the feelings of the adults, because the whole story is so very overtly a fantasy. Yet enjoyably so, like old Roald Dahl, another author who cared not a whit for the scruples of parents.

    1. The whole orphanage sub-plot reminded me of Lemony Snicket ( Miserable Mill)
      Didn't mind the orphanage stuff, silly as it was, but I do like your comparison to Dahl, shadygrey....


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