Classics Retold is a project created by Alison @ The Cheap Reader and hosted by a number of bloggers. This project encompasses reviews of some original classics, as well as their adaptations, retellings, and/or sequels. Click here for more details.
The project is categorized into different genres and each genre is hosted by a specific blogger. I actually did a little research to make sure I meet the project’s requirements. After much deliberation, I decided to choose The Secret Garden. Alison @ The Cheap Reader is in charge of Children’s Classic, so that means I’m part of her group. The master post can be found here.
To be honest, I’m not a fan of classics. I can’t even remember the last time I read one. When I do read a classic, it’s for the school’s required reading and I find myself unable to finish the book. Good thing I joined this project. Classics Retold gives me another opportunity to appreciate classics and look at them at a different light. That’s exactly how I feel after reading The Secret Garden. My mom was actually the one who picked up this book during our visit to MV Logos Hope. If it weren’t for this project, I wouldn’t have read this book sooner.
Mary Lennox was horrid. Selfish and spoilt, she was sent to stay with her hunchback uncle in Yorkshire. She hated it.
But when she finds the way into a secret garden and begins to tend it, a change comes over her and her life. She meets and befriends a local boy, the talented Dickon, and comes across her sickly cousin Colin who had been kept hidden from her. Between them, the three children work astonishing magic in themselves and those around them.
The Secret Garden is one of the best-loved stories of all time.
Before, I’ve only known the gist of the story. I did watch its anime adaptation, but I’ve forgotten most of the details. At first I thought that The Secret Garden, being a children’s classic, would just be too simple to read and understand. Little did I know that this book would help me gain new insights and realize that the books you’ve read as an older, more mature being would inevitably have a different impact from the time you’ve read it as a child.
At the beginning, readers are already introduced to a conflict about Mary being a troublesome child in terms of her attitude. The book slowly unravels how Mary becomes an orphan and how she comes to live in her uncle’s place in Yorkshire. During her stay at the Misselthwaite Manor, the things and the people that surround the place begin to change her. I love the part where Mary and Martha get to compare their different cultures and learn to accept and respect each other. Most of all, I’m impressed with the simplicity of the author as she utilizes a mere secret garden that would transform not one, not two, but three important persons into better human beings.
Frances Hodgson Burnett is able to portray realistic characters – showing their imperfections as seen in her characterizations of Mary and Colin. These two children are at first seen to be unlikeable, but as the story progresses, they have given the readers the benefit of a doubt and eventually, they have proven to be so dynamic and will surprise the readers as they reach the end of the story. But it is not just the two of them that makes the story enjoyable to read. There’s Dickon, Martha, and especially their mother. These three have been so involved in the kids’ lives that they don’t deserve to be ignored easily.
The narration is just as impressive. The story is uniquely written and the way the author structures her sentences and chooses her words seem to produce some kind of magic that will make readers become so absorbed in the book. It’s both poetic and insightful. She also succeeds in getting into the minds of all the characters and animals and reveals their personalities and feelings. The story just flows naturally with all the vivid and detailed descriptions. And while the book teaches the readers some lessons, it doesn’t sound too preachy. The rawness, innocence, and honesty of the children just make this book even more enjoyable to read.
The use of symbolism is also evident in the story. The Secret Garden is more than just the secret garden. The garden becomes a tool which unexpectedly intertwines the lives of the protagonists. It also serves as a bridge to form a connection between simple curiosities to more meaningful in-depth thoughts. This can be seen in their understanding of Magic in a form of a higher spiritual being at work in their lives as well as in the garden. The themes that surround this book are definitely worth pondering for. It’s not just about being healthy and playing outdoors, but it also boils down to being an optimist rather than a pessimist.
Overall, I’d have to say, this book leaves me with valuable lessons that will stay with me for the rest of my life. I truly enjoyed reading it from beginning until the end. I never expected myself to like this book so much. I’m glad I’ve chosen this classic. I recommend this to both the young and old.