The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett fulfills the “Read a Book During the Season It Is Set In” category of the PopSugar 2019 Reading Challenge. I finished the novel in March just as the spring kinda arrived here in upstate NY. I wish I had blogged it earlier.
Another kid’s classic that I missed as a child. I saw the musical when I was in college and loved it to death. I bought the soundtrack and was thrilled Mandy Patinkin sang Uncle Archie. I never knew Inigo Montoya could sing like that. Sigh…
I was already familiar with the lovely story of a lost girl who finds a real home with her uncle and saves her cousin from a bed-ridden life. A sweet and wonderful tale to enjoy while I waited and waited for spring to arrive. Mary’s anxiety and anticipation for spring were palpable as I waited too. Gardening is not my thing. In fact, I have a black thumb. Even my cactus is dead. But listening to the joy and love Mary and Dickon poured into that garden filled my heart with happiness. Seriously, I got sniffly. It almost made me want to take care of my lawn.
The play and the book seemed to follow exact lines, except for the doctor outwardly saying he loved Lilly too. OMG, The song where he confesses—Lilly’s Eyes—tears me up every time. If fact after reading the story, I tried to find my old soundtrack (yes, I have the CD from the 90s.) But had to go to You Tube to get the Lilly’s Eyes song. And there was Cheyenne Jackson singing the doctor’s part like a boss. Squee!
On another note, when we went to see the play, it was a tiny theater in Connecticut near the NY border. The acting and singing were amazing, but sadly the theater was only about half full for the show. The cast sang their hearts out for little old us. We totally gave them a standing ovation.
Anyway, back to the book…
Again, the story was sweet and cute, perfect for third or fourth-grade kids. But I wonder if the novel would be published as is nowadays. If you pay attention, the protagonist of the story changes from Mary to Colin. By the end of the story, we are cheering on Colin and his trials, his reunion with this father, and the happy ending. But Mary doesn’t quite get the happy ending she deserves in the book. (In the play, she totally did.) There doesn’t seem to be a reconciliation or a welcoming into the fold for her. Mary is still kinda on the outside. Forgotten (maybe by the author too).
The story is cute, lovely, but I feel for Mary. She’s alone in the world then meets Dickon. Uncle Archie cannot love her at the start because he’s so blocked. By the end, his arms are open, but kinda just to Colin. Mary is never welcomed as a sister, a daughter. Maybe I’m off here, but it felt kinda sad to see her pushed to the side for the more exciting ending of Colin’s tale.
Anyway, sweet book, much fun, better musical—go watch Cheyenne Jackson. I give The Secret Garden four roses.