‘The Secret Garden’ by Frances Hodgson Burnett

“At first people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done, then they begin to hope it can be done, then they see it can be done – then it is done and all the world wonders why it was not done centuries ago.” 

‘The Secret Garden’ by Frances Hodgson Burnett, though belongs to children’s literature, is an interesting read even for adults. Mary Lennox, a sick looking girl, goes to Yorkshire after her uncle takes her custody due to the death of her parents in India. Having brought up without any motherly love and having got her way in everything from her childhood, Mary finds Yorkshire a new world. Her caretaker Martha, being a young girl herself, isn’t subservient to Mary and this is all new to Mary who has always got her own way. Mary learns about Yorkshire from Martha and also learns about the Secret garden in her uncle’s manor. The door to that garden was locked ten years ago and the key has also been buried, whose whereabouts no one knows. Intrigued by this, Mary tries to find the secret garden. The book progresses to show whether Mary finds the secret garden and what she finds in there and what effect it has on her. 

Colin, who is also of the same age as Mary, is introduced as a sick and bed ridden boy. As the story progresses, we can also see that he imagines an illness which he doesn’t have and expects to die soon. In simple words, Colin suffers from hypochondria. So, what happens when Mary and Colin meet? What changes do they bring to each other? How will Mary assure Colin that he won’t die? All these are answered as the plot unfolds.

One character that everyone has to look out for in the novel is Dickon. Just as how he is loved by everyone in the novel, he is loved by every reader. Who doesn’t love a person who is friends with every animal, bird and plant. Being elder to Mary and Colin by two years, Dickon acts as a good friend and as an agent of positive influence on them. 

This novel is a healing novel. It has the best lines which teaches the reader on how living with nature heals the soul and makes one to grow positive and healthy. When we see things budding and thriving to come out of the earth, it makes us believe we can grow too. 

“If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.”

Another lesson we learn from the book is about magic. Now, you don’t need to relate magic to flying castles and extraordinary power. Magic is found in everything even within us. That which makes things come true is magic. That which fills us with goodness and makes us move forward is magic. Magic is in everything.

“Magic is always pushing and drawing and making things out of nothing. Everything is made out of magic, leaves and trees, flowers and birds, badgers and foxes and squirrels and people. So it must be all around us. In this garden – in all the places.”

The novel is an amazing read except for the racism and stereotypes it contains against India. Thus, ‘The Secret Garden’ is a book you would love to read and recommend.