Monday, 29 April 2019

Burnett, Frances Hodgson "The Secret Garden"


Burnett, Frances Hodgson "The Secret Garden" - 1911

After reading "The Clockmaker's Daughter", I read a review by my faithful blog friend Judy from "Keep the Wisdom" about "The Forgotten Garden" by the same author, Kate Morton.

While discussing that book, I had to reveal that I never read "The Secret Garden" as a child, probably because it was not as popular in Germany as it was in the English-speaking world.

Why that would be the case … I have no idea. It is a sweet book. I know I would have enjoyed it as a child, probably even more than I did now.

It's a story about how important it Is for children to love the outdoors, to have access to other children, to be loved. Even if it is just by a little robin.

I totally agree with Martha and Dickon's mother, Susan Sowerby, who says "Two worst things as can happen to a child is never to have his own way - or always to have it". The latter is even worse than the former since there is no reason why you should always give in to a child. They will throw tantrums like a three-year-old even when they're in their nineties. She seems to have her act together anyway. I think I liked her most of all the characters in the novel.

In this story, an arrogant young girl who grew up in India, has to come and live with her uncle and her arrogant young cousin. Only through the discovery of a secret garden, do they manage to grow into lovely young children. Wouldn't it be nice if all children were given this chance?

The only story by Frances Hodgson Burnett that I know is "Little Lord Fauntleroy" because they turned it into a beautiful film and show it on German television every year at Christmas. No need to say that we have it on DVD now so we can watch the non-dubbed, original version.

I also remember seeing an adaptation of "A Little Princess" years and years ago.

Looks like it's time I read both those books, as well.

From the back cover:

"'One of the most delightful and enduring classics of children's literature, The Secret Garden by Victorian author Frances Hodgson Burnett has remained a firm favorite with children the world over ever since it made its first appearance. Initially published as a serial story in 1910 in The American Magazine, it was brought out in novel form in 1911.

The plot centers round Mary Lennox, a young English girl who returns to England from India, having suffered the immense trauma by losing both her parents in a cholera epidemic. However, her memories of her parents are not pleasant, as they were a selfish, neglectful and pleasure-seeking couple. Mary is given to the care of her uncle Archibald Craven, whom she has never met. She travels to his home, Misselthwaite Manor located in the gloomy Yorkshire, a vast change from the sunny and warm climate she was used to. When she arrives, she is a rude, stubborn and given to stormy temper tantrums. However, her nature undergoes a gradual transformation when she learns of the tragedies that have befallen her strict and disciplinarian uncle whom she earlier feared and despised. Once when he's away from home, Mary discovers a charming walled garden which is always kept locked. The mystery deepens when she hears sounds of sobbing from somewhere within her uncle's vast mansion. The kindly servants ignore her queries or pretend they haven't heard, spiking Mary's curiosity.

The Secret Garden appeals to both young and old alike. It has wonderful elements of mystery, spirituality, charming characters and an authentic rendering of childhood emotions and experiences. Commonsense, truth and kindness, compassion and a belief in the essential goodness of human beings lie at the heart of this unforgettable story. It is the best known of Frances Hodgson Burnett's works, though most of us have definitely heard of, if not read, her other novel Little Lord Fauntleroy.

The book has been adapted extensively on stage, film and television and translated into all the world's major languages. In 1991, a Japanese anime version was launched for television in Japan. It remains a popular and beloved story of a child's journey into maturity, and a must-read for every child, parent, teacher and anyone who would enjoy this fascinating glimpse of childhood. One of the most delightful and enduring classics of children's literature, The Secret Garden by Victorian author Frances Hodgson Burnett has remained a firm favorite with children the world over ever since it made its first appearance. Initially published as a serial story in 1910 in The American Magazine, it was brought out in novel form in 1911.'"

4 comments:

  1. So glad you liked The Secret Garden. I never made it through Little Lord Fauntleroy but have read The Little Princess numerous times. Thanks for the shout out!

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    1. But of course. Whenever I read and review a book, I first think about you because I know we will be talking.

      Have you ever watched the "Little Lord Fauntleroy" movie? It's such a sweet one. Alec Guinness is excellt, as ever, but Ricky Schroder also is fantastic. They show it on German TV every Christmas and we also watch it then, though on DVD because we don't like watching dubbed films. Now we even have a Blue Ray ediditon.

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    2. I have a vague memory of a Little Lord Fauntleroy movie. When was it made?

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    3. 1980, so not that long ago. See here.

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