The Secret Gardenby Frances Hodgson Burnett (Author), Finola Hughes (Reader)
“.. if you look at it in a way, the whole world is a garden.”
Frances Hodgson Brunett’s “The Secret Garden” was written in 1911 but is a timeless tale and is a classic children’s read.
The Secret Garden is the story of a 10 year old girl, Mary Lennox. Mary Lennox is a sour girl. She is the most disagreeable looking child anyone has ever seen. Thin faced and with a thin body, with thin hair and a sour expression on her face, Mary Lennox never smiles. Her hair and face is yellow and she has always been ill one way or the other.
Her father who held an important position in the English Government in India, has no time to look at her or talk to her. Her mother who is a great beauty of her time, cared only about herself and her parties. The mother has left the child to be reared by the aayah’s (servants) of the house. The aayah’s were strictly told to keep the child away from the parents if they were to keep the parents pleased. Governess’ were provided to teach, but none of them stayed long enough as they grew to dislike the child very much! It was no wonder then, that Mary grew up to be an unloved and a sour child.
So when Mary Lennox suddenly finds herself to be an orphan, she does not shed a tear. When she finds herself being shipped off to an uncle who is hunch-backed and lives in an old desolate place, Mary simply looks disinterested. But Mary is secretly intrigued by the stories about Misselthwaite Manor and its inhabitants.
And there is a surprise waiting for Mary at Misselthwaite Manor. A magic of sorts.. the magic of beautiful vast moors, the magic of a little robin who befriends her and the magic of The Secret Garden. Surprisingly, Mary finds herself making the most unusual of friends. Martha, the housemaid, who tells her stories about her mother and brothers and sisters all living in a small cottage at the edge of the moor. Ben Weatherstaff, the Manor gardener, who talks to Mary about the robins and the gardens. And Dickon, a 12 year old boy with a pony who is Martha’s brother, who shows her to grow things.
Mary meets her uncle, who is heartbroken and lives as a recluse. And later in the story she meets Colin, her cousin, who like herself needs some of the special magic that makes Mary a little less contrary.
I will leave you to read the rest of the story or listen to it or watch it. Either way, the story will enamor you.. leave you to seek out your own secret garden. I will leave you to fall in love with this story because one can make such promises of stories like these! It is no wonder then that “The Secret Garden” has been called the greatest Children’s story ever written.
We read The Secret Garden, written by Frances Hodgson Brunnett and illustrated by Inga Moore. I have to say this is one of the most beautiful book I have ever seen. The art work is marvelous and inspiring. We also heard the audio book, narrated by the most talented Finola Hughes (Best known for her award worthy work in TV series General Hospital). Her outstanding narration of the story alternating between British English and Yorkshire English is charming and adeptly executed.
This is a story of re-awakening of spirits, of growing to love and live and finding happiness in most unusual places and people. Drawn on strong characters, Frances Hodgson Brunnet’s “The Secret Garden” is a must read, a classic that you will read and want to read across generations!
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