February 04, 2010

The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett


I actually finished The Secret Garden at the beginning of January but for some reason I have been holding off on doing my review - partly because I really wanted to love this book - but I just didn't. After reading Hodgson Burnett's adult fiction The Making Of A Marchioness last year and absolutely loving it I expected the jump to The Secret Garden would be an easy one. I gave a beautiful hard covered, illustrated edition of the book to my god daughter last year for her 4th Birthday and her father told me he had started reading it to her one night and had stopped because he felt the topic areas were a little full on for a 4 year old. Now she just looks at the pictures until she gets a little older! I can see his point - the grief and loss described at the beginning of the book is quite confronting. At the time that the book was written death and illness would have been quite common place for children to see and hear about - but in our modern society children are often shielded from this aspect of life.

I have to say that I do love my edition of the book - beautiful to look at and hold in your hands and there is a wonderful and enlightening introduction by Alice Sebold which I read last.

I have gone over and over why this book didn't work for me. I have tried to place it in the context in which it was written and to some extent that has helped - but this book is still loved and raved about today by so many. I can certainly connect with the themes of hope and growth and I can appreciate the messages that the author was conveying through the story but I just didn't connect with the characters at all - and (I feel a little awful to admit this) I really did not like Mary at all!

I think I have to make my peace with the fact that this wasn't the book for me and continue on reading Hodgson Burnett's adult fiction which I am definitely in love with.

24 comments:

thecaptivereader said...

I still feel guilty over not liking Frances Hodgson Burnett as much as everyone else seems to. I didn't like her books when I was a child and, having just reading The Making of a Marchioness, I'm not a great fan of her adult fiction either. I want to like her, since so many other readers who usually have very similar tastes to mine adore her, but I simply can't.

Tara said...

Did you ever read The Little Princess? My childhood copy is in tatters I read it so much - and I loved the Shirley Temple movie too! I never did read this one, though, not sure why, though I had a copy of it. I should try it sometime.

stockdove said...

I haven't read this one yet (maybe I shouldn't!), but I do looove The Making of a Marchioness and I have to say I also really like Alfonso Cuaron's film take on The Little Princess - it really transports you into a magical world :)

anothercookiecrumbles said...

Mary, Mary quite contrary...

I loved this book as a child - think it was one of my all-time favorite children's classics. Am really sorry you didn't enjoy it as much...

While Mary doesn't have the most likeable of characters, I could kind-of see where she was coming from.

Mrs. B. said...

The only FHB I've read is the Shuttle and I've loved it! I'm not really keen to read her children's books but am eagerly hunting down all her adult novels.

Becky said...

I loved this one as a child, really loved it. I had an audio version as well. Having read your review makes me think that I should re read it as an adult to see if I still have the same reaction.

Karen said...

Hi thecaptivereader - It's really strange how we make ourselves feel guilty over not liking certain author's that are 'supposed'to be loved isn't it??! Reading is such a personal thing that it is only natural we will all have different reactions.

Hi Tara - Maybe I should give The Little Princess a go...

Hi stockdove - I love TMOAM too - it was the book that made me decide to give The Secret Garden a go.

Hi anothercookiecrumbles - I could see where Mary was coming from too - I would have been the same sort of character if placed in that position at that age I am sure!

Hi Mrs B - I have a copy of The Shuttle waiting for me but at the moment I am trying hard to save it for the Persephone Reading Week in May.

Hi Becky - It's always nice to re-read favourite children's books as adults - as long as they don't lose that magic.

Paperback Reader said...

I'm sorry that this was disappointing for you. I am a huge FHB fan and adore The Secret Garden and the 1993 film adaptation. Perhaps you should try A Little Princess before giving up on her children's books?

The Shuttle is a perfect choice for Persephone Reading Week! It is highly absorbing and addictive.

theludicreader said...

While I loved The Secret Garden, I would have to say that A Little Princess is far more accessible. When I was a kid Sara Crewe's resilience and kindness really resonated with me and I still try to re-read that book every couple of years or so. And it still makes me cry.
-Christie

madbibliophile said...

This is on my TBR and I can barely remember the story. Perhaps the story has become so surrounded by mystery, glory and hype that the it ruins the actual text, which is a shame. I got a little excited reading that Alice Sebold wrote the introduction to this. :-)

julie said...

That's interesting... This book is one of my greatest memories as a child! But I never thought of reading it again. Probably won't to keep those beautiful memories alive. But you also got me intrigued there, so I don't know...

Karen said...

Hi Claire - I can't wait to read The Shuttle!! I'm so proud of myself for not starting it already!

Hi Christie - It sounds like The Little Princess is the book I need to try...

Hi madbibliophile - I thought the introduction was the best part of this book actually!

Hi Julie - it's so hard isn't it? On one hand you want to re-read favourite children's books to recapture the magic but on the other hand you don't want to ruin or change the magic either! Sucha a tough one.

bookssnob said...

Oh no! This is one of my all time favourite books and I'm so sad you didn't love it! FHB isn't for everyone though so don't feel too bad. A Little Princess is wonderful...and so is The Shuttle. Please keep reading her, you will find some gems I promise!

Karen said...

Hi booksnob - I must admit I'm a little sad that I didn't love this one too - I so thought I would! I will kepp trying her though don't you worry!

Aimee said...

Oh I am so sad oyu didn't enjoy it that much! its one of my favourite books too! :(

thanks for trying though, haha!

x
Aimee

Bybee said...

The Secret Garden was a little too New Age-y for me. But I LOVE Sara Crewe aka A Little Princess.

Louise said...

I just finished a reread of The Secret Garden-I loved it both times. I didn't read this book as a child, and have only read it as an adult. I love the awkward, mean beginning, and Mary and Colin's redemptive journey. I haven't read any of FHB's other books, childrens or adults, and was very interested in your comments on her adult books.

Anonymous said...

CoxCpn [url=http://onnrainnmcm.com/#55663]MCM[/url] GowUfz http://onnrainnmcm.com/ ChnCbc [url=http://mcmsenmon.com/#27651]MCM キーケース[/url] CkvIvu http://mcmsenmon.com/ FrtGso [url=http://ninnkimcm.com/#53816]MCM キーケース[/url] AqqSxn http://ninnkimcm.com/ DgxNrb [url=http://kaidokumcm.com/#56187]MCM リュック[/url] VrgLlk http://kaidokumcm.com/ IprIgs [url=http://manzokumcm.com/#36185]MCM 通販[/url] BeoDsa http://manzokumcm.com/ BqpJkn http://chloenihon.com/ PdbNey [url=http://chloenihon.com/]クロエ バッグ[/url] VrsPik http://louboutindendou.com/ RfjHwu [url=http://louboutindendou.com/]ルブタン セール[/url] WtjTmp http://guccisenmon.com/ HpkDgc [url=http://guccisenmon.com/]GUCCI ハンドバッグ[/url] BsbRws [url=http://mcmhannbai.com/]MCM キーケース[/url] QcuHyj [url=http://mcmhannbai.com/]MCM[/url]

Anonymous said...

Hi there! I know this is kind of off topic but
I was wondering if you knew where I could get a captcha plugin for my comment
form? I'm using the same blog platform as yours and I'm having trouble finding one?
Thanks a lot!

Here is my blog - magnetized flashlights

Anonymous said...

Hi! Quick question that's completely off topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly? My site looks weird when viewing from my apple iphone. I'm trying
to find a template or plugin that might be able
to fix this issue. If you have any recommendations,
please share. Thanks!

Feel free to surf to my web page - juice recipes for juicers

Anonymous said...

Attractive section of content. I just stumbled upon your blog and in accession capital to assert
that I get in fact enjoyed account your blog posts.
Any way I will be subscribing to your feeds and even I achievement you access consistently rapidly.


Here is my page daytime tv

Anonymous said...

Howdy! This post couldn't be written any better! Looking at this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He continually kept preaching about this. I most certainly will send this information to him. Fairly certain he will have a great read. Thank you for sharing!

Here is my page; gift ideas for men

Anonymous said...

I really like reading through a post that will make people think.
Also, many thanks for allowing for me to comment!


my web blog :: daytime tv

Anonymous said...

Pretty great post. I simply stumbled upon your blog and
wanted to say that I have truly loved browsing your weblog posts.
In any case I will be subscribing on your rss feed and I hope you
write once more soon!

Feel free to visit my webpage; ronco pocket fisherman