The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett

I received a free ecopy of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett written in 1911, & published by Girlebooks. I gave it five stars even with the dated language.


Describing the orphaned child, Mary Lennox: "no one had taken any notice of her. She did not know that this was because she was a disagreeable child; but then, of course, she did not know she was disagreeable. She often thought that other people were, but she did not know that she was so herself."


She was sent to her uncle Mr. Archibald Craven's home at Misselthwaite Manor.


She was met by his housekeeper Mrs. Medlock. "But Mrs. Medlock was not in the least disturbed by her and her thoughts. She was the kind of woman who would "stand no nonsense from young ones." At least, that is what she would have said if she had been asked."


Upon arriving at Misselthwaite Manor, Mary was stand-off-ish. However she learned it was not all bad. "Four good things had happened to her, in fact, since she came to Misselthwaite Manor. She had felt as if she had understood a robin and that he had understood her; she had run in the wind until her blood had grown warm; she had been healthily hungry for the first time in her life; and she had found out what it was to be sorry for some one. She was getting on." 


Mary was exploring the manor again & heard a cry just as Mrs. Medlock arrived with her keys. She seized Mary by the arm & marched her to her room & telling her she had heard no such thing. If she said it again, she'd get her ears boxed. Then she pushed her into room. Mary gritted her teeth with rage but didn't cry.


Mary is changing since she's lived at the Manor. She's learning to like things & people. "She had begun to like the garden just as she had begun to like the robin and Dickon and Martha's mother. She was beginning to like Martha, too. That seemed a good many people to like—when you were not used to liking. She thought of the robin as one of the people." As she felt better, she became less contrary.


Her friend, the robin helped her find a key buried. Then she couldn't help but think of the secret garden. It occupied every waking moment.


"Mary was an odd, determined little person, and now she had something interesting to be determined about, she was very much absorbed, indeed. She worked and dug and pulled up weeds steadily, only becoming more pleased with her work every hour instead of tiring of it."


Mary was with Martha planning her visit to Martha's home to meet Dickon. She again heard the cry & asked if the maid still had a toothache. Martha went scurrying out without answering her question. She just told Mary not to go wandering about listening.


She finally met Dickon & was pleased to discover he could communicate with animals. He told her the robin was her friend & liked her.


"Dickon," she said, "you are as nice as Martha said you were.  I like you, and you make the fifth person.  I never thought I should like five people."


At last Mr. Craven was home long enough to meet Mary. "Mrs. Medlock," Mr. Craven said to her, "now I have seen the child I understand what Mrs. Sowerby meant.  She must be less delicate before she begins lessons.  Give her simple, healthy food.  Let her run wild in the garden.  Don't look after her too much.  She needs liberty and fresh air and romping about.  Mrs. Sowerby is to come and see her now and then and she may sometimes go to the cottage."


Mary is excited & thrilled that she won't have to have a governess & could have her own garden.


Finally Mary met Colin Craven. At first they both thought the other was a dream. She was able to stay & talk with him. Later they practice speaking Yorkshire & make each other giggle. "My word!" cried Mary admiringly, "that there is a bit o' good Yorkshire. Tha'rt shapin' first-rate—that tha' art."


The book is a pleasure to read even with the dated language. Time has changed the meaning of some words, specifically queerly, which is used to mean oddly throughout this book.


Archibald Craven, Colin's father & Mary's uncle was described like this. "When he traveled about, darkness so brooded over him that the sight of him was a wrong done to other people because it was as if he poisoned the air about him with gloom."


"As the physically weak man can make himself strong by careful and patient training, so the man of weak thoughts, can make them strong by exercising himself in right thinking." by James Allen's As You Think was written in 1902 & seems to have influenced Author Burnett's writing. Especially when Colin declares: "I will be well!"


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