Monday, February 5, 2007

The Secret Garden

I just finished reading The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I bought a copy with a copyright from 1938, that was apparently a Christmas gift "from Nan-Nan to Carol" in 1944. The cover is a pale blue, with a little wear on the edges. The pages are slightly yellowed, and there are some beautiful color drawings scattered throughout the text. I love this book. I love the way it looks, the way it feels heavy and substantial in my hands, and the sweet story it contains. I love that when I would curl up and open its pages to start reading, there was a cold, wet scent from undoubtedly living unappreciated in someones basement. Now, I've rescued this little treasure and given it a good reading. I know it was delighted to be found of use again.

I started this book, unsure of whether I had read it or not. The plot sounded familiar, but I couldn't be sure if I'd read it or just heard about it. As I started the first chapter, I knew immediately that I was re-visiting old territory. The book opens with Mary, a spoiled and sickly little English girl who is the main character, being left alone in her nursery because the entire household has been killed by the cholera without her realizing what was happening. This chapter had a real effect on me as a child...The thought of losing my Mom and my Dad at the same time, and without realizing what was happening! As I read chapter one, those same terrified feelings from childhood cropped back up in my mind. I don't know if it was because the first couple of chapters scared me so bad, or if I started reading this book at too young an age to stay interested through all 300 something pages, but I know I never finished it. I know I never experienced all the majesty this book has to offer, because I couldn't have forgotten it. I have started writing a short synapse in the front of books I have just finished, in hopes that they will jog my memory in years to come. So, I will conclude with my synapse:

Such a sweet, sweet story. I can't wait to read it to our children one day! It proves the necessity of fresh air and exercise for a healthy life. It shows the ugliness of being spoiled, and the joy that comes from thinking of others. It could make anyone desperate for their own "little piece of earth" to make beautiful. All in all, I loved it so much that I read it in 3 days!

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