Booklitzer Challenge 200, Books, NaBloPoMo 2011

The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

I listened to this children’s classic by download from the library.  It is the first audiobook that I have listened to as an adult, and possibly only the second or third ever.

I am incredibly grateful that I chose to “read” this book in this way.  The reader, Johanna Ward, was wonderful.  I can’t recommend this version enough.

The story is about two young, spoiled, ill children.  The young girl, Mary Lennox, is brought up in India, with disinterested parents and servants who answer to her every whim.  Following her parents’ deaths in a cholera outbreak she is brought to England by a her uncle Archibald Craven and is ensconced at Misselthwaite Manor in Yorkshire with only the servants for company.
The maid Martha, and her very wise mother and younger brother Dickon, all play their part in bringing the sickly, spoiled and selfish young girl out into her better self.   Then, just as she is beginning to become healthy and gaining a focus outside of herself, she discovers her cousin Colin Craven.  He is bedridden, spoiled and self-centred too.  Everyone considers him an invalid, doomed to an early death.

Together with the help of the wonderful and magical Dickon the two young children discover the joys of being in the outdoors, exercising their bodies and their minds by having a goal to focus on.  They gain much from the garden that becomes the centre of their recovery and the catalyst for their improvement in health and attitude.  It provides them with a mental outlet, a physical outlet and a positive focus.  On the way through we meet the characters of Ben Weatherstaff, the Robin and the very sad Archibald Craven.

It is a tremendous story of redemption, hope and faith.   In the blossoming of the garden, both of the children bloom.  As the garden grows and changes, so do the children.
It is uplifting without becoming sappy, and it is easily the loveliest story I have read in a very long time.  I unreservedly give this five stars.  If you have not read this classic, I would recommend getting the audiobook I have linked to, either from the library or by whatever means at your disposal.  The narrator does “Yorkshire” in a way that I could never have managed to hear in my own head as I read to myself.   It was a joy to listen to.  Not for bedtime listening as I would often find myself being lulled into sleep, though.

A great classic that deserves a place in your home library whether you have children or not.


Today in history: 1952 – Roseanne Barr was born. (American Actress)

There’s a lot more to being a woman than being a mother, but there’s a hell of a lot more to being a mother than most people suspect.
– Roseanne Barr

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4 thoughts on “The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett”

  1. I agree, it’s a good story. I’ve read the book a couple of times and do like the film version (1993, Maggie Smith as Mrs. Medlock). Who doesn’t want a secret garden for their very own?

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  2. I read this for the first time this year – loved it! Exactly as you say: uplifting without being sappy. I haven’t listened to a book as yet…must try it some time.

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  3. I adored it as well. I’m so glad I went with your suggestion and listened to it, I completely agree about the “Yorkshire”. Adorable book and I gave it 5 stars too!

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  4. I must say that this book epitomised for me a comment in a book I am currently reading How to Read a Novel: A User’s Guide.

    The acoustics of fiction matter. Our obsessive concern with ‘reading’ and ‘literacy skills’ has created a public which has – if not a universal tin ear – a disabling hearing problem when it comes to fiction.

    Without the Yorkshire of the reader I would not have heard this story as it should have been. It would not have been as rich an experience as it actually was.

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