The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

“I am sure there is magic in everything, only we have not sense enough to get hold of it and make it do things for us…”


A story of a girl who recently lost her parents to cholera in India.  She is taken in by her mysterious uncle in England.  It is the story of Mary Lennox as she discovers friendship, kindness and herself.  Mary is very secretive and loves to explore the unknown, this intrigue is how she discovers the Secret Garden.  A garden forgotten and lost to time…

My Opinion

I have been putting this book off for years and I am glad that I finally did pick it up.  It was light and cheerful and gave me a lot to reflect on.  My favourite part of the book is the mystery and intrigue surrounding the garden and how the beautiful Robin played a part in helping Mary to find the key to unlock the garden.

The Secret Garden is considered a classic, I can now see why…  Frances Hodgson Burnett has a beautiful descriptive writing that is still simple enough that you don’t get bored.  When I was reading this book, I felt like I was there with Mary, feeling and experiencing everything she was.  With such a beautiful writing style, when we enter the garden, you felt like you were there, seeing all the flowers, hearing the insects and smelling the flowers.  I think this is what takes the book from being just a children’s book, to an amazing book for all ages that is timeless.

I know this book is for children, but that doesn’t stop the author exploring universal themes, themes like the importance of family and your identity.  You see this throughout the book with Colin’s character development.  Colin is considered an invalid by his father.  This view has crippled Colin into believing he is never well, that he cannot walk, that he must stay in bed all day.  This sadly stemmed from his father being scared to lose his son, like he lost his wife, by wrapping Colin in cotton wool, he believes that he is helping Colin.  Instead Colin has turned into a very scared and bitter child.

When Colin meets Mary, he is surprised he has a cousin, and that this cousin thinks him silly for believing the adults in his life.  Mary believes that Colin is well, despite what Colin says.  With the power of love and a little magic, Colin is able to come to conclusion that he is in fact healthy and able.  Family crippled him and now family saved him.  Family is such a big and powerful thing in life.

I loved Colin’s character development from a bitter and poorly child to a strong and ambitious young man.  Along with Colin, I loved the protagonist’s journey, Mary.  As Mary arrived in England, she was a selfish and blunt child, a child that was so closed off to love, she was unable to find a single friend.  As the book progresses, you see Mary open up to the situation and the world around her.  With Martha’s help she begins to learn how to be a child, instead of a sullen little girl having everyone wait on her.  This is simply done by teaching Mary to jump rope and to encourage her to explore the gardens.  Mary finally finds herself.

As Mary explores the gardens she ends up making friends with all sorts of people and animals.  She ends up befriending a little Robin, Ben Weatherstaff the gardener and Dickon Sowerby, Martha’s brother.  Through the friendships she gains, Mary finds out the importance of kindness and friendship, changing her forever from a selfish and uncaring child to a friendly, kind, adventurous and charming young lady.

I love the themes explored in this book and the character development.  I truly wish I could meet these characters and live in their lives for a day.  I really enjoyed this book, and it has now become a favourite, a story I will cherish for life.  I gave this book 4 starts, not 5 because it was a little too simple, but that is because it is a children’s book and I believe it should not be changed.


What is your favourite children’s book?

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