Book 67: The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

I had no intentions of reading this novel, it’s not on any of my lists and it’s not like I don’t have 20 additional books that I’ve purchased over the past month. This is one of the drawbacks (or amazing qualities) of the Kindle. I’ve come to realize that the ability to make the text larger and not have to hold the book is awesome at the gym and on public transportation. The only drawback of the free ones are the none-to-exciting covers as seen to the left.

Throughout the novel I couldn’t help but comparing it to the 1993 film version which I loved and now desperately want to see again having read the work that inspired it. And I love the novel even more having spent two years in West Yorkshire.

The chapters flow effortlessly together and perhaps this comes from the serialization when it was first written. Although it is significantly lighter than the film it is just as beautiful and perhaps even more fun given the occasional inclusion of what the animals or flowers/trees might think if they could—a necessary addition if you have any desire to read the book out-loud.

This book will definitely go on my list of books to read to my kids one day (along with Tales of Beedle the Bard). Let’s just hope by time I get around to kids I can still remember and pronounce the Yorkshire accent 😀

Quotes from The Secret Garden
“Mary felt as if the drive would never come to an end and that the wide, bleak moor was a wide expanse of black ocean through which she was passing on a strip of dry land.” (Loc. 245-46)

“One of the strange things about living in the world is that it is only now and then one is quite sure one is going to live forever and ever and ever.” (Loc. 2262-63)

“‘Of course there must be lots of Magic in the world,’ he said wisely one day, ‘but people don’t know what it is like or how to make it. Perhaps the beginning is just to say nice things are going to happen until you make them happen. I am going to try and experiment.'” (Loc. 2508-10)

‘”I am sure there is Magic in everything, only we have not sense enough to get hold of it and make it do things for us—like electricity and horses and steam.'” (Loc. 2524-26)

“‘You learn things by saying them over and over and thinking about them until they stay in your mind forever and I think it will be the same with Magic. If you keep calling it to come to you and help you it will get to be part of you and it will stay and do things.'” (Loc. 2542-44)

“In each century since the beginning of the world wonderful things have been discovered. In the last century more amazing things were found out than in any century before. In this new century hundreds of things still more astounding will be brought to light. At first people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done, then they begin to hope it can be done, then they see it can be done—then it is done and all the world wonders why it was not done centuries ago. One of the new things people began to find out in the last century was that thoughts—just mere thoughts—are as powerful as electric batteries—as good for one as sunlight is, or as bad for one as poison. To let a sad thought or a bad one get into your mind is as dangerous as letting a scarlet fever germ get into your body. If you let it stay there after it has got in you may never get over it as long as you live.” (Loc. 2978-84)

“Much more surprising things can happen to any one who, when a disagreeable or discouraged thought comes into his mind, just has the sense to remember in time and push it out by putting in an agreeable determinedly courageous one. Two things cannot be in one place.” (Loc 2994-95)


9 thoughts on “Book 67: The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett”

  1. This book sounds amazing. We studied it briefly in sixth grade and I found out there was some sort of odd sequel, but I never read it. I do, however, LOVE the 1993 movie as well. My copy is on VHS. I think I shall dig it up and reminisce. Plus seeing Dame Maggie Smith is a blast.


    1. I was really impressed by the book – and to find out it wasn’t even her most famous work until after she died. I didn’t know she’d written anything else.

      I also read about the two attempted sequels and maybe I’ll look into them, but I doubt it – there’s something beautiful about leaving Mary and Colin at that happy time. (Also Dame Maggie Smith rocks!)


  2. This is one of my favorite books ever. I read it about every other year. I have a compilation book with this, A Little Princess and Little Lord Fauntleroy. Both are also excellent!!


    1. The whole time reading it all I wanted to do was watch the movie and The Little Princess as well and I’m fairly certain I downloaded the book when I downloaded this. I haven’t read Little Lord Fauntleroy but at least I’ve heard of it!


  3. I love this book and the movie as well. My DVD of the movie includes The Little Princess movie on the flip side, but I haven’t watched that yet. Can you tell me why you thought the book is lighter than the movie? Just curious — I actually thought the movie glossed over some points, like the fact that Mary’s mother is really quite unloving in the book.


    1. Thanks for the comment!

      It may just be what I remember from the movie (it’s probably been 10 years since I last saw it), but I felt the film spent a bit more time on Archibald’s dislike of Colin than on Colin getting better and I don’t remember Dickon’s mother playing as big a role as she does in the novel. It also could be because I’m remembering the darkness of the film prior to Mary pulling the coverings off the windows. Perhaps I should rewatch it and then state a better suited/updated opinion!


      1. Ah, okay! Yes, I don’t think Dickon’s mother makes an appearance at all in the movie, but she is lovely in the book. Watch it soon, if you can! I think I picked up my DVD for $5 at Target, if you have one in your area.


  4. I loved this and “A Little Princess” as a kid. It’s rather remarkable as well to see a novel written at that time (early 1900s) featuring strong female protagonists.


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