The Secret Garden

“Perhaps, the beginning is just to say nice things are going to happen until you make them happen.”

Thoughts    The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, first published 1911, under 300 pages.


I cannot remember what the cover of the book I read looked like!   I usually select the appropriate book in when I do finally read something that has been on my to-be-read list, but in this case, I don’t think I did.   I have since sent this book to my 9 year old niece so can no longer refer to the copy, which is also why the publisher info/page count is not included above.

But I loved this story!     (Also explains why I sent it to my niece.)

Here’s what provides for the blurb:

Mistress Mary is quite contrary until she helps her garden grow. Along the way, she manages to cure her sickly cousin Colin, who is every bit as imperious as she. These two are sullen little peas in a pod, closed up in a gloomy old manor on the Yorkshire moors of England, until a locked-up garden captures their imaginations and puts the blush of a wild rose in their cheeks; “It was the sweetest, most mysterious-looking place any one could imagine. The high walls which shut it in were covered with the leafless stems of roses which were so thick, that they matted together…. ‘No wonder it is still,’ Mary whispered. ‘I am the first person who has spoken here for ten years.'” As new life sprouts from the earth, Mary and Colin’s sour natures begin to sweeten. For anyone who has ever felt afraid to live and love, The Secret Garden‘s portrayal of reawakening spirits will thrill and rejuvenate. Frances Hodgson Burnett creates characters so strong and distinct, young readers continue to identify with them even 85 years after they were conceived. (Ages 9 to 12)

Such a delightful and magical novel!    The characters AND the gardens came to life in vivid extraordinary enjoyable ways.    I adored Miss Mary as a little tyrant and loved reading about her transformation into self-awareness.   I now understand how this became a classic.

FIVE SLICES OF PIE         X     

p.55 – PALANQUIN – |ˌpalənˈkēn|
noun(in India and the East) – a covered litter for one passenger, consisting of a large box carried on two horizontal poles by four or six bearers.

p.201 – GRAIDELY – graidely means “good” in Yorkshire dialect

p. 265 – VERDURE –  |ˈvərjər|  (Which tells me that I have pronounced this incorrectly;  using a harder ‘d’ sound)
noun – lush green vegetation.• the fresh green color of such vegetation.• poetic/literary a condition of freshness.   (This is not the first time I have looked up the definition of this word;  sometimes I know a word and just like to test my knowledge against its use but since all I have noted is page and word, I can’t recall why exactly.)

This was a terrific book to read in Spring.   As the robin seemed to be saying to Mary, “Let us […] chirp, hop and twitter!  Come on!  Come on!”



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25 thoughts on “The Secret Garden

  1. I didn’t read this till I was in my 20s, although A Little Princess (by the same author) is one of my childhood favorites. How did I miss it as a kid? Such a wonderful book!

    I’ve been pronouncing verdure wrong, too, but only in my head because it’s not a word I’ve ever spoken aloud.

    1. True! I don’t often go around dropping verdure in every-day conversation. Now I can start and no one will make fun of me for saying it wrong. ha!

  2. I always preferred A Little Princess but it’s been years since I read either of them. I should really reread them both and see if I feel the same way. I still have one of her adult novels, The Shuttle, checked out from the library but I don’t think I’m going to finish it soon — it’s an ILL and I don’t think I can renew it, sadly.

    1. Karen,
      OK now I have to find Little Princess! Why am I hearing about this now? I don’t think I know of this. In fact, I read the Little Prince only a few years ago because people looked at me funny when I said I hadn’t read it. I don’t think I really knew about THIS book nor does the author sound like an author name I have known forever.
      I know I told my mom that I don’t think I read ANY kids classics and she just rolls her eyes are me. Which doesn’t tell me anything. Did I or didn’t I? I wish I had kept a list from wee ages ago. Kids are SO lucky now that they have electronic ability to track this stuff. not that they do…. I’m off on a tangent, am I not?

  3. I definitely read this as a child, but I’m with Karen – I liked this one well enough, but LOVED A Little Princess. I should revisit this one, though, especially now that I’m more familiar with Gothic novels and foggy moors and whatnot.

    1. Foggy Moors and Whatnot – LOVE it.
      OK, this settles it, I must read The Little Princess next. I know nothing about it and if I find out she wears pink and pines after Prince Charming, I am NOT going to like it, understand?!

  4. This is one of my favorites, but my library didn’t have A Little Princess (very small town) so I missed that one… I’m thinking I need to read it! I loved, loved, loved (and still love) The Secret Garden. So glad you liked it.

    1. I am enjoying these ‘read-those-kids-classics-you-were-supposed-to-read-when-you-were-a-kid’ books. Now I have to get Little Princess.

    1. I did have a few opinions I didn’t share – mostly about magic vs religion but I didn’t feel like exploring it right now. and yea, Mary was an appalling brat!

  5. This was one of my favourite books when I was ten-twelve years old. I read Little Princess after that, and only read Little Lord Fauntleroy last year. Also, recently, I discovered that she’s written some adult books, which I’d love to read and have added to my wishlist.

    Lucky niece – am sure she’ll love it.

    My cover was none of the ones you’ve displayed though…

    1. I have heard of Little Lord Fauntleroy but maybe Little Princess is both vague and unspecific that I didn’t realize it came in a package of a childrens’ book. I was going to say insidious but that doesn’t quite fit. Maybe the idea of little girls’ crazy pink & glittery princess culture is what I think of when I say insidious?

  6. Oh, my mother read this to us when we were little, and I love it so much to infinity. I have the Tasha Tudor illustrations in my head every time I read it as a grown-up.

  7. *sigh* Yet another book that I should have read long ago. But it’s not too late, right? And I so hope I am as enchanted as you. Oh, how I love books that can do that. 🙂

  8. My nine year old is reading A Little Princess and enjoying it. I’m hoping she will want to read The Secret Garden soon afterwards. I read it when I was in my 20’s and enjoyed it.

  9. *meekly* i’ve never read this book. ack! there, i said it! i did see a performance of the play version at the count basie theater in red bank, nj, though. does that count??? i’ll add it to my list of missed classics…

  10. I am still a kid. Never seen The Little Princess, but I have read the Little Prince! Dunno if it’s by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I’ve read the Secrect Garden in 2nd grade. I read
    It AGAIN a couple months ago and am reresding it again!! I love those little moments in the book where it’s just like there are no cares in the world and you’re just indescribably happy. I’m about to be a teenager, but I vow not to be as sour as Mary was at the beginning! (Love her though, and I think I might have a fantasy crush on Dicken! 😂)

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