I've been craving a reread of The Secret Garden ever since Jillian read it a couple months ago. Then I saw the readalong hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, and I knew I had to join.
I hadn't read this since I was a little girl. My best friend when I was 7 or 8 was a girl named Emily. We would often exchange books back and forth, and this was one she was hesitant to give me, since she loved it so much. She finally lent it to me over a long weekend, and I cherished her copy of the book. I read the whole thing that weekend and brought it back to her in school on Monday.
I think I asked to borrow it one or two more times, but she said no and I never managed to get my own copy as a girl.
So when Puffin released their hardcover children's classics, I snapped them up and was excited to finally own a copy of a book I loved as a child. Since placing the yellow beauty on my shelf in November, I've been eying it in hopes of reading it soon.
Did it live up to my expectations? It sure did.
The Secret Garden is really the story of two spoiled and selfish children. The first is Mary Lennox. Growing up in India, Mary is spoiled and unwanted by her parents. She stays indoors and bosses around her maids. But when she is orphaned, she sent off to England to a relative's house and left to her own devices. Without anyone to listen to her whining and complaining.
The other child is Colin-the son of Mary's estranged Uncle-and a supposed cripple. Sheltered in a small room almost since his birth, Colin has been told he is sickly for almost his entire life. He has fed into that knowledge and believes himself to be far sicker than he is.
The magic of the story comes when these two children meet and begin fixing up and playing in the secret locked garden. There, Mary and Colin learn a great deal about themselves, with some help from Dickon, and grow up.
I loved reading this again as an adult. I remembered bits and pieces about the garden from my read as a child, but there were so many lovely passages and characters lost in memory. First, Dickon. I remembered him slightly as being a character I was overly fond of, but I was blown away by his appearances in the novel. Dickon was always a supportive, loving figure to Mary and Colin, and far more mature than his age.
I also forgot about the robin, who led Mary to finding the key to the garden and letting her explore:
“Nothing in the world is quite as adorably lovely as a robin when he shows off and they are nearly always doing it.”
The pieces of the robin interacting with Mary were charming, and I loved that the robin brought about an unselfish side to Mary (the little robins on my book cover are also quite charming, aren't they?).
More than anything, I loved the magical and hopeful quality of the book. Both Mary and Colin undergo changes and maturity throughout the course of the novel. Both change from selfish, self-absorbed little creatures, to people who learn to care about something other than themselves. Together, with Dickon, they help the garden grow and flourish. They breathe new life into something once forgotten and neglected...much like how they were treated by the adults in their lives. They showed that value can be found in lonely and forgotten places, if you care to look and see the potential it has.
This is a book I can't wait to share with my own children. I can already picture reading it to them from between the yellow covers and letting them discover the magical quality of the secret garden for themselves.
“There's naught as nice as th' smell o' good clean earth, except th' smell o' fresh growin' things when th' rain falls on 'em.”