Review: The Secret Garden

BY Jyoti Arora - Author of Dream's Sake IN A+, General Fiction, Literature 1 COMMENT children's fiction, classic, death, Fiction, Frances Hodgson Burnett, India, love, nature, secret garden

By Frances Hodgson Burnett. Grade A+

If ever there was a book in which the setting becomes an additional character, then The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett is one. Through the coming alive of the setting, the author not only displays her love for the nature, but she will make you fall in love with it too.

The novel begins in India but gets quickly shifted to England. While the heroine only witnessed hot and humid weather and dust and squalor in India, she gets transported to a place where the beauty of nature is alive and thriving, the moors are expanding far and wide, beckoning her to their mysteries and reviving her sodden spirit with their fresh and invigorating gusts of wind.

And then there are gardens and gardens surrounding the great house where she now lives. She is at complete freedom to explore and marvel at these gardens as they come alive with the spring. Nature rewards her adoration by curing her of her ills, awakening her to goodness and happiness. It makes her and her young companions experience the power of positive thinking, and the presence and love of the Almighty. The three little children in the book tend to a forsaken garden, but it does more for them than they do for it.

The heroine of the book is 9 years old Mary Lennox. Her father, an officer in the British Army in India, and her mother, a renowned beauty, much in demand at all parties and balls, care not a bit for their child. So Mary is tended only by the Indian servants, who bow to every whim, fancy and demand of the Missie Sahib. As a result, Mary is selfish, self centered and ugly and sickly child, totally without any idea of appreciating anything, following orders or respecting anyone.

Then death strikes and she loses both her parents. She is sent to Yorkshire, England, to live with her uncle, Archibald Craven. And it is there that she actually starts living.

Archibald Craven is a man himself stricken with grief. So, unable to care for anything or anyone, he leaves the girl to her devices and goes away on his travels. She is once again tended by servants. But here, the Yorkshire servants refuse to be her slaves. She then has nothing else to do but to roam through the gardens and explore the big mysterious house with 100 rooms.

As she gets closer to nature, and forces her sick cousin Colin Craven to do so too, nature works her magic. And as spring transforms the secret garden, the children who work hard at the garden get transformed too. They see little plants peeking out from soil, they can’t think of it as anything else but magic. And they teach themselves to believe that the magic is spread all around. If you just believe in the magic, it will help you and make you stronger, healthier and happier.

This made me think of ‘The Secret’ by Rhonda Byrne. ‘The Secret’ also teaches the value of belief, but by means of abstract principles and theories. But ‘The Secret Garden’ shows the principle in action, and shows it in the simplest and most unobtrusive way.
The Secret Garden,’ published in 1911, is a classic that has stood the test of time. It teaches many lessons, but in a delightfully subtle way. The story is simple and sweet. The language is simple and fluid, even when broad Yorkshire is spoken. The characters are believable and realistic. And the book is full of positivism and convinces you of the benign influence of nature, power of positive thinking and the omnipresence of the ‘Magic.’

The best part of the book, however, is its description of nature. Believe me, if you just read this book for half an hour before going to sleep, you are guaranteed to have the sweetest of dreams.

Jyoti Arora – Author of Dream’s Sake
Hi, I am Jyoti Arora, Author of Dream’s Sake and a long time devotee of books. I remember falling in love with the sight and smell of the books even when I couldn’t read them. So strong was this love that I started reading them even before I started going to school. And when the school was snatched away from me due to my ill health, books still remained to keep the world of knowledge open and fill the vacancy created by loss of friends. Books are my friends, my teachers, my strength. And now, they are my profession too. Since 2007, I have been working as a freelance writer. I have abridged 24 classics and wrote, edited, abridged several more books for kids while working with two publishers. In 2011, my debut novel Dream’s Sake was published. By winning a blogging contest, I also became a Samsung Mobiler and review and promote Samsung’s smartphones.
To know more about me and my novel, do visit