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I *loved* this book as a child & I've periodically reread it since (last time was 2008) and still love it! Ana did an interesting post about it; apparently Burney was a Christian scientist who believed people could heal themselves if they just got some fresh air & wanted to be better. Since I learned that, and having chronic illnesses myself, it gave me a bit of pause, but it can't ruin the book's magic for me!


The Secret Garden was one of my favorite childhood books. I read it again last spring, and I still loved it, even though I agree that Burnett had some weird ideas (and sad ones, like the interest in spiritualism that she developed after losing her son). But her writing is beautiful, and Dickon is such a great character.


My favourite book from my childhood is A Little Princess, by the same author, and the Secret Garden paled in comparison. Because 1. Mary's so obnoxious, and 2. the book seemed to me to be more about the boy, it never really clicked for me. The movie is lovely, though, and one of my daughter's all-time favourites -- do see it.


So glad you enjoyed this wonderful story of redemption.
I first read it when I was seven or eight and thought Dickon was the man of my dreams.
I really do think gardening is akin to a spiritual pursuit and very healing. (I'm not really a nut......really!!)
Loved A Little Princess too.
Happy reading!


Lovely review of an old favorite- I can't remember when I first read this book but it's been many times. Yes, Mary is a real brat but it's nice to see her turn around and makes the story amusing at times.


Oh, I love THE SECRET GARDEN. As an adult I decided I was going to have a hardback edition, the one with the Tasha Tudor illustrations, which are lovely in their own right. To me, SG is better than LP, but that's just personal preference. I like LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY, too. Cedric isn't half so sappy as his reputation. Many wealthy boys wore those lace collar suits in the late 19th century.

I'm puzzled at where you got the impression that Archibald Craven was wheelchair bound. He does have a hunchback, but he's not in a wheelchair.


I'll have to look for Ana's post. I'm not sure if I even owned this as a child--I was left to choose my own books when I was young and no one ever pressed this (or many other classics) into my hands to read. Unguided reading is cool, too, but I feel like I missed out on loads of good books. Interesting about FHB--I didn't realize she was a Christian Scientist-I'm not sure if that was mentioned in the biographical blurb. And I didn't know they thought that--I do think fresh air and sunshine can do wonders mentally--but not sure it's a cure-all. I'd like to read some of her other work (I have read The Shuttle, however).


I think spiritualism was a big deal around the the time of WWI--it's probably not surprising that she got caught up in it, but sad that she lost her son. Dickon is a great character--such a contrast to the other two!


I'd like to read A Little Princess, too, at some point. Mary is a real pill at the beginning of the story, as is Colin, though there were some bits that I found pretty humorous--not sure if I would have caught them when I was little. I do think I'm going to watch the move--and am glad to hear it is good.


I wish now I had bought this for my niece when she was younger. I'm not sure it would appeal to her right now since she is a teenager--maybe when she is older. I do think there is something very therapeutic about gardening actually--and I don't at all think you're a nut! :) The Little Princess has duly been added to my wishlist!


I thought FHB did a good job with Mary's character--her transformation was gradual and she wasn't a perfect character--all the right things to make her appealing in the end, really. I think my favorite part is when Colin is throwing a fit and Mary outdoes him--even he is shocked. I think that was eye-opening for her, too, to see his behavior mirror her own.


Ack--You're right! See, only two weeks since I read the book and already the details are getting hazy and slightly mixed up. It's Colin who is in the wheelchair when he first leaves his room! Colin is afraid he'll end up like his father. Thanks for the heads up--I've fixed that reference! I would love the edition with the illustrations. I just bought a plain mass market edition for a quick read. She wrote quite a few books, didn't she? I didn't realize Little Lord Fauntleroy was her book, too. I do have The Making of a Marchioness on my shelves however. Have you read any of her books for adults?


One of my favorite books. I, too, have it with Tasha Tudor's illustrations. Books take on different perspectives at different times in our lives, don't they? I love the Lois Lowry quote and have enjoyed her books as well. Great review, Danielle.


I like Lois Lowry, too, and Loved The Giver! Her intro is slightly irreverent, which was fun, but it's also obvious she admires the book. I've read a few children's classics now as an adult and I really think a lot of the stories--what goes on under the surface would have been lost to me as a child. I'm glad I finally read this one and have decided I really need to read more children's classics.


This was absolutely one of my favourite books as a child. My earliest memory of it is listening to the audio book. It felt like a book especially for me because of the Yorkshire accents - its where I'm from and Dickon sounded just like our next door neighbour! I also had the paperback, the film on VHS and went to see the theatre production. I haven't reread it though, probably for fear it won't be as amazing as I remember. The Little Princess was a much loved book too - every little girls fantasy I think.


Like many others here, I loved this book as a child and I have read it many times since -- it is definitely on my list of the best books ever, and I'd read it right now if I had it here. Yes of course Mary is a pain at first, but that's the whole point, isn't it? Her terrible start in life more than explains it, and the way she and Colin grow and develop is incredibly lovely and inspiring. I actually didn't like the film all that much -- I thought it a bit over-sentimentalised. But it's still worth watching and you may love it. The Little Princess I liked a little less, but FHB was a terrific writer. Thanks for the reminder!


I've read this to my son a couple of times and he's loved it. I think he identifies with Dickon - the idea of all that freedom to wander about and do what you like! The film is lovely, I think you'll really enjoy it.

Liz F

Didn't actually read this as a child although I did read and enjoy A Little Princess, but I know that I saw a couple of TV adaptations when I was growing up so the story is very familiar.
I have the illustrated version, and very beautiful it is too and it is on my pile of books to get round to sooner rather than later.
My daughter loved the film when it came out, not least because it was filmed on the Studley Royal estate (which also contains the ruins of Fountains Abbey) only a few miles from us. It is lovely to look at although I'm not sure about it being too sentimental as it has been quite a while since we last watched it - clearly due for a re-viewing [perhaps when she comes back from university for Easter).

There is something very therapeutic about working in a garden and I have always wanted a walled garden of my own (to go along with the Queen Anne style house in the middle of the country!) - oh well I can dream!


I can hardly believe it, but I've never read this book either. I've always known it was "out there," but never was tempted to pick it up. Too much into Nancy Drew, I suspect. I really would like to read it now, though. Never too old to be young.


I've started this a few years ago with a student but she did so not like it while I enjoyed t a lot. Unfortunately we then moved to other books and I abandoned this. I would really like to read it.
Little Women is on my TBR pile as well but I wonder how I will like the morals sneaked in...


I didn't read this as a child,
but as an adult I found it
enthralling. The language
is wonderful. And I loved
the character of Dickon
who is so a part of nature.

Mary Grover

I loved this book when I read it as a child and I still love it. It's about time to re-read it. I think that one of the things I liked most was that Mary started out so plain and ugly and cross. So many children's books featured little girls who were beautiful and sweet and well-behaved. If she had been docile and sweet and pretty and obedient to begin with she wouldn't have been interesting, or able to help her cousin.
And given how she had been raised in India it was no surprise that she was so unpleasant. She was lonely and unloved and unhappy.


This would be a good story to listen to--exactly for those accents as I never know in my mind how to pronounce them! I love how Mary started speaking with the Yorkshire accent--that was very sweet! And I know what you mean by being afraid of rereading a favorite book after so many years and possibly ruining a good memory of it! I'd like to read The Little Princess--I'm not even sure I know what it is exactly about--must go check it out.


You're very right--if Mary had been as nice as Dickon from the get go the story would not have been at all as appealing--the magic is seeing her transformation. It is no wonder she was so badly behaved considering her circumstances--I think she as a little floored when she met someone who could throw a bigger fit than she! Definitely a keeper this book--I think I might have to look for the edition with the Tasha Tudor illustrations. I'm curious to see how the movie compares and hope to watch it while the story is still fresh in my mind. I do like FHB--loved The Shuttle and still want to read The Making of a Marchioness, which I hear is very good, too!


I can see the appeal of this story to a child and think it would make a great read aloud story! There really is something magical about being able to wander about and explore as a child (well, as an adult, too, for that matter). Am looking forward to the movie now!


I'd like to get the illustrated version now. I'm happy I finally read it--not sure how I missed it as a child but then there were so many classics that I never read. It's so hard now since there are already so many adult books clamoring for my attention but I'd like to try and read some LM Montgomery books as well as Alice in Wonderland (which almost seems shocking to me that I never read as a child...). I must have had a picture book or something as I know the story more or less but never read it. Have you been to the estate where the film was made? I'm looking forward to watching it. I love the idea of gardens, though I must say I don't really have much of a green thumb--I always think if I had just a little more time I could devote myself to a flower or vegetable garden...


Me, too! And like you I read loads of Nancy Drew as a child (along with the Bobbsy Twins, Encyclopedia Brown and lots of Phyllis Whitney!). You're right that you really never are too old to be young and I thoroughly enjoyed the book even now.


I wonder sometimes what I would have made of certain childrens books had I read them when I was young. I missed out on so many classics, but I don't mind rediscovering them now. It is a quick read if you decide to go back to it. I really enjoyed Little Women--the tone is not wholly moralistic, but there are some heavy handed (well, it felt so as an adult--and one who is not particularly religious)scenes in the story. Not surprising I suppose considering when it was written and for which audience. And funny, too, to think that what Louisa May Alcott really wanted to write were suspenseful stories and thrillers! I'd be curious to hear what you make of it! I loved the movie!


The writing really is very good. I don't know why that surprises me when I read a children's book--as if I don't expect them to be well written--but maybe that the story is sophisticated. Dickon is my favorite character, too.


Mary really is very plain and ordinary, really. I loved seeing her transformation. It is nice to see flawed characters--maybe it is even easier for a child to identify with them rather than a perfectly behaved little girl. And you're right--it does indeed make for a more entertaining story. She had an awful upbringing--definitely explains her bad manners! Obviously (and I can see why) this is a much loved story--it's fun hearing everyone's take on it! :)


I didn't read this book until I was an adult, either, but I really liked it when I finally got around to it. I wish I would have read it as a child, then again as an adult, to see how my opinions would have changed and what would have stuck with me. I remember reading LMA's Rose in Bloom as a child and being upset by Rose's final choice of a suitor, and after rereading it as an adult, wondering what I had found objectionable!


Danielle, I feel the
same way. I didn't
read many 'children's
books' as a child
so coming to them
as an adult is such
a wonderful experience.

I am quite taken
with the beautiful
language and a clever
turn of phrase.
Thinking here of
'Little Women', 'Secret
Garden', 'Wind in the
Willows', etc.
I am not sure I
would have
appreciated such
as a child.


I'm with you on thinking I wouldn't have appreciated many of the YA books I've read as an adult. That's okay--books can be read an appreciated no matter how old (or young) you are!


Isn't that funny how perspectives change so much. I remember when I was in high school and read 'adult' books and if the heroine was over 30 I would often set it aside thinking I had nothing in common with such a person and who wants to read about people who are so 'old'. What a silly girl I was. Now I have no problem reading about any character--old or young, though I must admit I still tend to pick up books with female leads over male leads.


What fun! I read this when I was in 6th or 7th grade. My best friend was also a book nerd and she had gotten the book for her birthday, loved it and lent it to me. I loved it too. I have a copy of the book on my Kindle and hope to reread it sometime.

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