The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Age Group 9+
Mistress Mary is a pale, spoilt and a disagreeable-looking child. When she is ten, her parents succumbed to a deadly disease which spread in the city. She was abandoned by all the servants and help who otherwise waited on her. At this point, she is found by the faithful household help, Mrs Medlock, who works at her uncle’s manor. She is then called for by her uncle to the Misselthwaite Manor.
Her uncle, Mr Archibald Craven has a huge house with hundreds of rooms and big gardens. There’s a fleet of servants in the house to look after it and its residents. But Miss Mary feels extremely lonely here. She is looked after by Martha, another household help at the manor, who speaks broad Yorkshire. She gets along well with Martha and learns to groom herself. She is also warned by both the household helps not to get out of her room and wander around in the manor. This could land her and them in trouble.
But Mary Lennox is not the one to sit quietly about it. One fine day, she decides to explore the huge manor and its numerous closed rooms. She finds beautiful paintings and souvenirs collected from various trips made. Mysterious events happen inside and outside the manor. She hears someone crying loudly in one of the numerous rooms. But Martha denies having heard anything. When she continues hearing the cries on a couple of occasions, she decides to find out about it.
Inside the manor, the mystery of the cries unfolds and changes a few lives. During another such exploration of the manor, she comes across a garden that has been locked and hidden since past ten years. She is curious to know more about the garden and a red-breasted robin helps her find the key to the garden.
Once she finds the key and the hidden garden, a magical journey begins, mysteries unfold and all this transforms her into an unbelievably different person. Miss Mary does not feel lonely anymore. She has a lot of company inside the manor as well as outside. She finds hope and reason for living a meaningful life. This journey changes not just her life but also the life of a lot of people around her.
The story reminds of the famous book The Last Leaf by O.Henry. It’s a story of hope, belief, trust and transformation. It is about believing in yourself and bringing out the magic within you. It is about leaving behind inhibitions and leading a purposeful life.