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Once Upon A Bookshelf

Where Fiction and Reality Meet

The Secret Garden

Author: Frances Hodgson Burnett
Originally Published: 1911
Edition Courtney Read Published: 2013
Publisher: DBS Audiobooks
Source: Spotify

The Story

The Secret GardenFrom the back of my copy of the book (as I couldn’t actually find any information on the audiobook other than the actual audio files):

Wonderful. Magical. Secret.

Mary Lennox needs some magic in her life. Her parents have died in a faraway land, and Mary has been taken to a strange and mysterious mansion to live with her distant uncle. She has no friends and no happiness… until she finds the key to a wonderful secret garden.

Now Mary will discover that miracles can happen… and that magic is real.

The Response

I haven’t had much time to get much reading done lately, so I’ve decided to give audio books a try while I design. It turns out the Spotify has a fair amount of audio books, though most of the ones I would be interested in are older classics that I’ve read already… which isn’t really a bad thing for getting started into the whole audio book thing, as well as the whole revisiting old favourites, you know?

So, I started with Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden, which I’ve read I don’t know how many times, and have always loved… but it’s been such a long time since I’ve reread it that there was a lot that I had forgotten and I had discovered other things about it that I’m not sure I would have seen previously.

And I do have to say that I still really did enjoy this… except for two things. I’ve heard people talk recently about how this book is rather racist, and I hadn’t picked up on that before. I definitely did this time. The other thing was… well, when Colin was talking about “the magic” and how he thinks that a woman was beat by her husband because she was nagging him and therefore using “the magic” wrong. In all honesty, it came across like victim blaming, and it did make me feel very uncomfortable.

This book is a really good example of how things that were societal norms weren’t necessarily morally acceptable. But at the same time, I think it’s important for us to learn from our past so we don’t continue to act in the same way that we did previously.

So other than that!

I forgot how much I love Mary and Dicken. Especially Mary – oh, she is utterly horrid at the beginning. I love it! I love how she grows through the story – and oh, how much she ends up changing. I love that she still maintains her brattiness at times too, but how meeting and playing with other children expands her whole universe. It’s such a beautiful growth. Colin I really don’t care about, though it’s interesting to see the similarities between who Colin is when we meet him and who Mary was at the beginning of the book. We don’t see him grow nearly as much as Mary does, and I have a feeling that he wouldn’t have even if the book had gone on for another few years – he seems like he’s the type who would always be stuck up, and the fact that he’s going to inherit the manor when his father dies… I don’t know what Mary is going to do once she’s older, whether she would inherit a fortune from her parents or not, but it doesn’t seem like after what she went through that she would allow it to make her all snooty again.

The Bottom Line

I’m definitely happy I revisited this. It was eye-opening. What a great story, and now I’m looking forward to rereading A Little Princess.

Posted by Courtney Wilson @ 7:12 am November 18, 2014.
Category: Children's
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