Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Secret Garden

Burnett, Frances Hodgson. 1911. The Secret Garden.

When Mary Lennox was sent to Misselthwaite Manor to live with her uncle everybody said she was the most disagreeable looking child ever seen. It was true too.

I don't have any clear memories of reading this one as a child. I could have. Or not. But I do remember the movie. This would have been the 1987 movie version (or was it made for TV???) of the classic.

In my investigating just now, I discovered that Colin Firth (yes, Colin Firth) plays a small role in that movie as the adult Colin Craven. Who knew? Anyway, I remember the movie. And I'm sure that I saw it before attempting to read the book. In many ways, the book is very very different from the movie. In other ways, it does get a few things right.

My hesitation from reading the book is that I always remember the movie ending. An ending that left me uncomfortable and unsatisfied. An ending where Dickon's fate is dismal. But I was quite happy and somewhat surprised to find out that this ending--this epilogue is complete nonsense. It doesn't exist except in this made-for-tv-wonderland where we meet Mary and Colin as adults.

Now on to the book itself. I liked it. It was an enjoyable read of some rather unenjoyable characters. Characters like Mary and Colin who are miserable and unhappy and isolated and friendless. Characters that come-of-age and become who they're meant to be. Reading about cranky characters who learn to become decent human beings can be enjoyable now and then. And both Mary and Colin are rather human characters. Dickon their strange animal-loving sidekick always seemed a bit too-good-to-be-true for me. A bit unhuman, unnatural. Not that he's not nice, he's just a bit other.

These two children are very spoiled, very selfish, very disagreeable, very prone to tantrum throwing. And I liked that the book was about how they overcame those naturally horrible tendencies. How though no one "liked" them at all in the beginning, they slowly but surely became liked, became loved, became a part of the greater world around them.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


sharonluvscats80atyahoodotcom 12:48 PM  

I remember the 87 movie too. This is the first book I remember reading in school. I reread it last year but I have yet to get my hand on a copy of the 87 film.

Anonymous,  3:04 PM  

The Writer read this book as an adult, too. Though it's been relegated to the nursery, like fairy tales, it was published as an adult book. A departure for Burnett's "beautiful child" fare. There are lots of gardens in her real life. I love this book because the "magic" is truly real. And Dickon is a bit too much of a Pan-figure.

Debi 3:16 PM  

This is one of those books I've long meant to read, and yet still haven't. :( One of these days, one of these days...

Beth F 4:12 PM  

This was one of all-time favorite childhood books. My mother read this to me when I was about 4! And I've read it many times since. I remember loving the idea that the robin showed Mary where the door to the garden was. I wanted a to find a secret garden all my own. I haven't seen the movie--I'll have to check it out.

Josette 12:06 AM  

I've watched the 1993 version on TV. The DVD is kind of hard to find. I really liked the show and want to buy it so that I can watch over and over again! And no, I haven't read the book yet.

Anonymous,  8:19 AM  

Ah, this was a favorite of mine as a child, and it still sits on my shelf begging me to read it again. Thanks for the reminder.
Nancy Viau

Jennie 1:56 PM  

I don't know how many times I've read this book. I've been such a lifelong fan that I've refused to see any of the movies.

The musical, however, is very good, which I wasn't expecting.

The Khaje Khronicles 4:37 PM  

I read this book about 16 years ago and loved it! I need to re-read it though, because it was soooo good.

bigskygirls 11:12 PM  

Wow, I shoved this book to the back of my "to be read" library at some point because I didn't like the movie when I was younger. I don't even remember why I didn't like it, but now I think I might give this book a shot! Thanks for the review and giving a little insight into the pop culture versions too. I may even have to eventually rewatch the movie just to catch Colin Firth ;)

Post a Comment

I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

Unique Visitors and Google PR Rank

Free PageRank Checker

2018 Kitty Lit Challenge

2018 Kitty Lit Challenge
Link to sign-up page

Join the Victorian Reading Challenge

Join the Victorian Reading Challenge
Linked to sign up page

Family Tree Reading Challenge

Family Tree Reading Challenge
Link to sign-up page

2018 Share-a-Tea Challenge

2018 Share-a-Tea Challenge
Linked To Sign Up Page

2018 Charity Challenge (Sign Up)

2018 Good Rule Reading Challenge

2018 Good Rule Reading Challenge
Link to sign up page

2018 Picture Book Challenge

2018 Picture Book Challenge
Link to sign-up page

Join the 2018 Middle Grade Reading Challenge

Join the 2018 Middle Grade Reading Challenge
click image to go to sign up post

Good Rules Cheat List

Board books and picture books = new is anything published after 2013
Early readers and chapter books = new is anything published after 2013
Contemporary (general/realistic) = new is anything published after 2007
Speculative fiction (sci-fi/fantasy = new is anything published after 2007
Classics = anything published before 1968
Historical fiction = new is anything published after 2007
Mysteries = new is anything published after 1988
Nonfiction = new is anything published after 2007
Christian books = new is anything published after 2000
Bibles = new is anything published after 1989

My Blog List

(Old) Challenge Participants

Becky's Hosting These Challenges

100 Books Project: Fill in the Gaps

Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

  © Blogger template Newspaper III by 2008

Back to TOP