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.