Hello everyone. Welcome to November’s Book Of The Month discussion.
As you know, November’s #bookofthemonth is The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
I have really enjoyed being nostalgic in November and going forward I will be reading more childhood classic novels because I think it is really interesting to reread these books again with adult eyes.
Be sure to keep an eye out because I will be announcing December’s #bookofthemonth very soon, and seeing as it is coming up to Christmas, I have chosen a Christmas classic. Can you guess what it could be? Stay tuned to find out.
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett was first published as a book in 1911.
The plot follows the young Mary Lennox who must adjust to living in Yorkshire after she loses her parents to cholera. Mary is a sullen child, and she finds the move from India to Yorkshire very difficult. Mary is very lonely and very unimpressed with her new home until one day a little robin in the garden leads her to a door that does not have a key. Mary becomes determined to find a way in, and when she does, the secret garden becomes a place of solace for Mary and her newfound friends. As the novel goes on, Mary begins to become a happier child, one who is finding love, happiness, and a sense of belonging in her new home. The house is filled with secrets, and Mary learns a lot as the story plays out – however I will not be spilling the secrets here, if you wish to know what happens then I would highly recommend picking up this classic.
I am going to talk about the writing style in The Secret Garden. Keeping in mind that this text is a piece of children’s literature, I think that one of the reasons that this book is such a classic work of children’s literature is because Frances Hodgson Burnett writes in a way that I think is very appealing to readers, especially to younger readers. Burnett has written this novel in the third-person, and the narrator of the story is privy to all the details of what is going on in the house, and this is very important as it is a layered story with many characters so having a narrator who acts as an authoritative figure who is explaining in a clear way what is going on, keeps the plot easy to follow. Burnett also uses quite short, direct sentences but there is still lots of descriptive language in the book as Mary is taking in her new surroundings and analysing what she thinks of them. I really like this writing style because Burnett’s use of descriptive language creates beautiful imagery, but the shorter, direct sentences keep it from being too heavy and too dense, and again, I think this is great for younger readers because they can take in all of the wonderful descriptions without facing paragraphs and paragraphs of writing that can feel like too much.
I think that I would call The Secret Garden a romantic novel as the book paints the garden and nature, and the outdoors as places of extreme beauty and healing. Mary’s development from a sullen, sour child to a rosy-cheeked, happier one is linked to her spending time in the fresh air and in the earth. Mary becomes happier as she tends to the garden, she makes new friends, she becomes more and more settled in her new home, and this is very much tied to her spending so much time out in nature. Romantic novels place a great emphasis on the importance of nature, and on the beauty that can be found in nature, and I think that The Secret Garden does this too. I also think that Mary Lennox is an example of someone experiencing a romantic version of childhood due to her status in life. Mary is a privileged child who is experiencing a life in which money is not a concern.
I would suggest that the book’s main theme is the idea of healing. In Yorkshire, Mary flourishes and she helps others heal from their grief too. As I said, I won’t be spoiling the plot so you should go and read it, but those of you who have read it will know that Mary is not the only character who benefits and heals from the garden being restored. There is a lot of love in this novel, and I think it has a very cosy, nostalgic tone.
I really enjoyed reading this novel again as the last time I read it I must have been only nine years old. I absolutely loved this novel when I was little so it was really nice to sit down with it again in my twenties. There were certain parts that I remembered like the back of my hand, while others I had almost completely forgotten about. Dickon is still my favourite character. He is kind, he is fun, he is a complete nature lover. He is always outdoors, and he is always with animals. I have always thought that there was something really lovely about his character as he is such a good friend to Mary. I think that he captures a really lovely childhood spirit because he does find wonder in the smallest things, and he is even happy on the rainiest of days.
The novel is full of very different, very well-rounded characters and I think it is the richness of the characters that makes the novel so fantastic because I would suggest that the plot itself is rather straightforward. It is easy to follow yet it is intriguing and compelling.
I think that this novel captures a sense of wonder, and it encourages curiosity, because as I was reading, just like Mary, I found myself wanting to know what was behind each locked door so there is a sense of mystery throughout the novel too which I think is really interesting. It keeps you engaged as a reader.
This has been my Book Of The Month discussion. I hope you enjoyed it. Overall I really love The Secret Garden. Reading the book again reminded me why I loved it so much when I was younger, and I still enjoy it now. I think it is a lovely, compelling story with many different, interesting characters who keep the reader engaged. I think that the writing style is imaginative without being overly complicated, and I think that the healing arcs that are explored in this novel are very touching.
Have you read The Secret Garden? If so, I’d love to hear what you think. Let me know, and be sure to stay tuned because I will be revealing December’s Book Of The Month very soon.