Format: Hardcover (V&A Collector’s Edition)
Length: 352 pages
Genre: Children’s Fiction, Classic
Publisher: Puffin Books
Date of Publication: 4th May, 2017 (First published in August 1911)
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
I always lament to the Book Divas that I haven’t read many classics as a child so for my birthday, they sent this beautiful collector’s edition of The Secret Garden as a gift. I began reading it almost immediately because I had heard so many amazing things about the book.
“After losing her parents, young Mary Lennox is sent from India to live in her uncle’s gloomy mansion on the wild English moors. She is lonely and has no one to play with, but one day she learns of a secret garden somewhere in the grounds that no one is allowed to enter. Then Mary uncovers an old key in a flowerbed – and a gust of magic leads her to the hidden door. Slowly she turns the key and enters a world she could never have imagined.“
The book tells the story of 10-year-old Mary, an unloved little girl who is raised in British colonised India and then moves to Yorkshire to live with her Uncle after her parents die in a cholera epidemic. Growing in a household that doesn’t seem to care about her, Mary turns surly and entitled. Although I knew that the book was written in 1911, I was enraged by the description of India and Indians throughout the book. They are heathens whose only purpose in life is to be subservient the Englishmen. It is no wonder that people of color are still seen with suspicion and disgust in some places of the world.
The book moves in a predictable trajectory. The spoilt brat meets an even bigger spoilt brat and they both discover the joys of the world together. The description of Dickon and his animal retinue was endearing. The miraculous ‘recovery’ of Collin was hard to believe especially since I’ve personally experienced the amount of muscular atrophy that occurs when you are laid up in bed, unable to use your legs even for a short while.
I think I would have enjoyed the book if I had read it as a child. Reading it as an adult made me realise the amount of difference and intolerance that we feed kids unconsciously.
Frances Eliza Hodgson was the daughter of ironmonger Edwin Hodgson, who died three years after her birth, and his wife Eliza Boond. She was educated at The Select Seminary for Young Ladies and Gentleman until the age of fifteen, at which point the family ironmongery, then being run by her mother, failed, and the family emigrated to Knoxville, Tennessee. Here Hodgson began to write, in order to supplement the family income, assuming full responsibility for the family upon the death of her mother, in 1870. In 1872 she married Dr. Swan Burnett, with whom she had two sons, Lionel and Vivian. The marriage was dissolved in 1898. In 1900 Burnett married actor Stephen Townsend until 1902 when they got divorced. Following her great success as a novelist, playwright, and children’s author, Burnett maintained homes in both England and America, traveling back and forth quite frequently. She died in her Long Island, New York home, in 1924.
Primarily remembered today for her trio of classic children’s novels – Little Lord Fauntleroy(1886), A Little Princess (1905), and The Secret Garden (1911) – Burnett was also a popular adult novelist, in her own day, publishing romantic stories such as The Making of a Marchioness(1901) for older readers.
TL;DR: A book that does not completely transfer to the present day
Is there a book that you wish you had read as a child rather than as an adult?
Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life