Our book for today is: "The Secret Garden" by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The book begins with Mary Lennox, a nine-year-old sickly, snotty little snit of girl living in India with her neglectful parents during the nineteenth century. Her life is turned upside down when her parents die of cholera, and she's sent to live with her gloomy uncle, Archibald Craven, who lives in a hundred room manor house on the Yorkshire moors. Almost all of the rooms have been closed off. One of the servants tells Mary the her Aunt died ten years earlier and that her uncle has been mourning ever since. He locked up his wife's garden and buried the key.
Mary becomes obsessed with finding the key to the garden and starts spending more and more time outside. As she does, she becomes healthier and much more pleasant. She also starts to make friends of the other people on the estate, including the gardener.
During that time, Mary hears crying coming from somewhere inside the manor and wants to find out where it's coming from, but the head housekeeper forbids her from searching the manor. Mary forgets about the crying for time when she finds the key to the secret garden. She starts caring for the garden and the plants begin to grow and thrive, just like Mary. I'll leave the story there so I don't give away any spoilers.
One of the reasons I loved this book so much is that it starts out so gloomy and hopeless but becomes bright and joyful in the end. I loved the way the author wrote Mary's (and other characters') growth and change for the better to parallel the garden. Mary goes from being a spoiled, self-absorbed child to being a loving and caring person whose actions rescue others from the same miserable life she might have had.
This is a book that girls would probably enjoy more than boys, but I think it's a book all children should read. It teaches what can happen when we're kind and put the wellbeing of others above our own.
I read this book several times when I was young, and I've seen a few of the film and TV adaptations. None of them are near as good as the book, but I enjoyed watching them anyway. I'm just a sucker for a happy ending.
Have you read "The Secret Garden?" If so, what was your impression?