March 3, 2016
Classic of the Month
March has begun, and for this month's classic I chose a book full of flowers and plants.
The Secret Garden
This is one of Frances Hodgson Burnett's three famous novels. It is about a little girl named Mary, who was raised in India. She's the child of typical Victorian era perents. Have a nurse to keep the child out of the way unless they want to show her off. Left alone a lot and unloved, Mary is a surly, stuck up thing at the beginning of the book.
The story begins when a cholera epidemic hits and kills everyone in the house and grounds except Mary. Having no other family, she is packed off to her uncle Archibald Craven in England. He lives in a giant old manor house out on the moors with many locked or off limit rooms. He also knows nothing about children. Mary learns from one of the maids, Martha, that there's a locked garden. This excites her curiosity and she starts to look for it, like any child would. She's a persistent girl and finds it through a turn of events you would call almost magical. As she works to make the garden come back to life, she becomes a more caring person and gains several friends, one of whom is a bird. Mary discovers her uncle's hidden son, Colin, one night. She takes him to the secret garden and between her and Dickon, one of her friends, they make him strong. When his father returns, the family is whole once again.
What I Like About It
One of the themes of the book is healing through living things. When Mary finds the garden, she stops being so priggish and becomes a healthy, happy little girl. Colin, her cousin, is the same. Instead of a bossy boy, he turns into a stronger, happier person. That one little garden, that brought her uncle so much pain, in a way brought him even more joy.
I also like the way Burnett talks about everyday magic, the type you or I don't notice because we've always seen it. The magic of the way things turn from a tiny seed to a beautiful flower is lost on us. But Mary and Colin think it's the most wonderful thing they've ever seen. If our world acted that delighted about watching a rose bush grow, I think people would be happier.
And of course, there's the wonderful thought of a secret garden. I've always hoped to find a garden hidden away somewhere. Even after Mary discovers the garden, it remains a magical place. The manor is cool too. They don't make houses like that in America. Over a hundred rooms with all sorts of things to discover, almost like Professor Kirke's house. A garden with three or four parts. Hidden parks in the woods. I've always wanted a house like that.
Movie and Book Adaptations
Unfortunately, there are no good movies made from this amazing book. I remember watching one when I was really little, but I don't know which one that one it was or whether it was any good. Someone should consider doing it. It could be such a great movie. There are also no books that take this story and twist it, or at least that I know of. There is, however, an excellent audio drama by Focus on the Family. My eight year old sister loves it, and I did too at her age. I would recommend it for anyone.