Don’t you see how much nicer it would be if it was a secret?

Sorry for the absence. My entire family was hit with the dreaded norovirus that’s going around. We’re all mostly on the mend, thank goodness.

My next book on the list is the children’s classic, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I had never read this book as a kid, but loved the 1993 movie version. Since I always worry whether a movie can ever do a book justice, I decided to give this a read. The fact that it is a free download for my Kindle was an added bonus.

The story is centered around a young British girl, Mary Lennox, brought up in India who is orphaned and brought to live with her uncle in England. She has always been very isolated and, because of this, is a bit of a brat. She was always surrounded by servants, virtually ignored by her parents, and has a very hard time adapting to her new life. Her uncle, Lord Craven, is always travelling, but Mary is not alone. She is helped by a number of kind servants, particularly Mrs. Medlock and Martha. As she is exploring her uncle’s estate, she hears rumors of a garden that once belonged to her uncle’s wife, who is now deceased, that has been locked up and hidden. Mary finds the garden and, together with Martha’s brother Dickon, tries to help it grow again. But the house holds other mysteries as well. One night, Mary hears a child crying and finds that she has a cousin named Colin, an invalid who never leaves his room. Mary convinces her Colin to try going outside and, slowly but surely, he starts to gain strength.

One theme that is constantly woven throughout this book is that of magic. Colin  was a sickly baby and, since his mother died in childbirth, everyone was terrified that he would die as well. It is possible that Colin only became an invalid because that’s how he was treated. He was never given the chance to run and grow up like a normal child. Even so, there is something miraculous about how he is able to overcome his physical and emotional limitations. He loves his father, but hates him at the same time for ignoring him, when the truth is that his father is terrified of loving the boy only to loose him. Once Colin has regained his strength and wishes for his father to come home, something inspires Craven to head home at once, even though he usually tries to avoid the place. Is this magic? A coincidence? That’s for us to decide.

It’s a beautiful book that I would definitely recommend. While we’re at it, I’ll recommend the movie as well. They really did a wonderful job with it, and it also stars the fabulous Maggie Smith.

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