Publisher: Random House Value Publishing
Date Published: 1998, First Published 1911
Genres: Classics, Family, JUVENILE FICTION, Orphans & Foster Homes
Audiobook Length: 8 hours 30 minutes
Audiobook Narrator: Susie Berneis
Description: What secrets lie behind the doors at Misselthwaite Manor? Recently arrived at her uncle's estate, orphaned Mary Lennox is spoiled, sickly, and certain she won't enjoy living there. Then she discovers the arched doorway into an overgrown garden, shut up since the death of her aunt ten years earlier. Mary soon begins transforming it into a thing of beauty--unaware that she is changing too. But Misselthwaite hides another secret, as mary discovers one night. High in a dark room, away from the rest of the house, lies her young cousin, Colin, who believes he is an incurable invalid, destined to die young. His tantrums are so frightful, no one can reason with him. If only, Mary hopes, she can get Colin to love the secret garden as much as she does, its magic will work wonders on him.
The Secret Garden was one of my favorite stories as a kid. Both the book and the movie. While I was looking for a book made into a movie or tv show for April’s bingo card, I received a fortuitous email in the form of a free download for The Secret Garden. So I thought, hey, excellent opportunity to re-read a book from my childhood. But then I realized the free version was abridged. So I downloaded the unabridged version from hoopla.
My memory is foggy, but I remember scenes from the movie better than the book. The visuals of finding the proverbial Secret Garden. Colin’s screams before Mary understood what was happening. And Dickon with all of this animal friends.
I did love the re-read, well, in this case, listen. The audio was well done. As for the characters, Mary and Colin are both so similar. Sickly brats with super bad attitudes. Parents who don’t really care about or for them. When Mary first arrives in England, she has no clue how to do anything for herself. She can’t even manage to dress herself. But she begins to fend for herself. She eats, gains some weight, no longer looks as sickly. And when she finds the garden, takes it on as a special project. At which point, she meets her cousin Colin. He is in even worse shape, having tantrums, convinced he has a hunchback, and that is going to die. Mary recognizes herself in Colin. And vows to help him.
The plot point that I think I loved the best is that the children keep the garden, and Colin’s improving health a secret from most all of the adults in the household. To the point of sneaking food from Dickon’s mother and having Colin pretend to have fits. All of the staff is worried, and Mary and Colin can’t keep from giggling at their joke.
I will say, with my foggy memory, that the book and movie end in very different places. The book ends with the return of Colin’s father, and happily ever after. I recall the movie ending later, when the kids are older and returning from war. But even know, I’m questioning my own memories.
The story doesn’t feel dated, as long as you know kids who play outside, instead of with cell phones or video games. Take my advice and read this one. Maybe outside in a garden. Especially if you have kids in your life. They could learn from Mary and Colin how to not be a brat.