Speaking of Gardens…

The Secret Garden illustrated by Tasha Tudor

One of my favorite books (even now) is The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Once, when I was home sick for several days my mother read it to me. I was old enough to read it for myself, but too sick, and it was just magic to listen to my mother read it. I’ve never liked reading out loud myself, but both my parent were wonderful at it. No one could read Winnie the Pooh like my father. But I digress.

The Secret Garden is a truly wonderful book: a magnificent house full of mystery, wonderfully drawn characters (including the moor itself), and a great moral to boot. They don’t write them like this anymore. Much as I enjoyed Harry Potter the writing is not in Burnett’s league at all. Take this passage as an example:

“One of the strange things about living in the world is that it is only now and then one is quite sure one is going to live forever and ever and ever. One knows it sometimes when one gets up at the tender solemn dawn-time and goes out and stands out and throws one’s head far back and looks up and up and watches the pale sky slowly changing and flushing and marvelous unknown things happening until the East almost makes one cry out and one’s heart stands still at the strange unchanging majesty of the rising of the sun–which has been happening every morning for thousands and thousands and thousands of years. One knows it then for a moment or so. And one knows it sometimes when one stands by oneself in a wood at sunset and the mysterious deep gold stillness slanting through and under the branches seems to be saying slowly again and again something one cannot quite hear, however much one tries. Then sometimes the immense quiet of the dark blue at night with the millions of stars waiting and watching makes one sure; and sometimes a sound of far-off music makes it true; and sometimes a look in someone’s eyes.”

The Secret Garden is one of those books that I find myself going back to again and again — comfort food for the soul as it were. If you’ve never read it, read it! If you haven’t read it lately, go back to it. If you know someone young looking for a good read, share it!
Look for a future blog on another favorite, The Little Princess.