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Review: "The Secret Garden" by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Secret Garden may be downloaded for free from our ebook catalog.

Very few children's books start with a Cholera epidemic. This makes me wonder whether public outcry would ensue if The Secret Garden were released today instead of 99 years ago. Contemporary publishers would recoil at the very idea of publishing a book whose first chapter describes the death of a young girl's entire family in India, leaving only herself and a few servants.

After the death of young Mary's family, the servants contact her closest living relative: a widower uncle, who lives in a large mansion in England. She is sent to live with him. With the exception of the household servants, Mary has only her dour uncle and a sickly cousin for companions. She is not even supposed to visit her cousin, Colin, as he is considered too sickly for childish things.

Without much else to do, Mary wanders the premises and begins to learn about the local flora and fauna. In her explorations, she happens upon a garden, closed with a locked gate, which has fallen into disarray. The garden has been shut for 10 years because it belonged to her uncle's deceased and very beloved wife, a wife for whom he still mourns. With the help of a local boy and some furry friends, Mary secretively visits the garden every day and begins to put it right. Here the garden becomes a metaphor for Mary's transformative effect upon her cousin and uncle.

The Secret Garden was one of the most enchanting books that I read as a child. I recently purchased and read this book again. I was pleased to note that for an adult, The Secret Garden was just as enchanting.


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