Books that I read as a child left such strong imprints on my imagination that all these years later, I still dream of them. This is one such book.
Where I spent most of my childhood, we had a guava tree in the backyard, and I would spend hours reading, sitting on its flat branches. I pretended that I was Mary and it was my serect garden, that I too had a hidden space, a key, a bird.
Ten year old Mary, born and raised in India, returns to England after losing her parents. At her Uncle’s castle, she is bitter and arrogant, refusing to be taken care of or being happy. Soon, she discovers a mysterious boy, who wails at night, and is a recluse… who is he? Why does he cry? Where does the key lead to? Such question crop up in Frances Hodgson Burnett’s brilliant children’s book.
This is a beautiful book. It teaches many difficult kids to be gentle, to be understanding. Cruel kids much be kind and patient. It teaches many useful values and a very serene and calm way. But there is so much excitement throughout!
I so badly wanted some adventure then… so badly want some now too!
PS: Mondrak, the Great Maytham Hall Garden in Kent provided the inspiration for ‘The Secret Garden’. Have you been there!?
PPS: I just LOVED this pic, it reminds me of the excitement that accompanies the front page of an unread book!
(Picture courtesy: http://wellmaybeiwasmistaken.tumblr.com/post/17584280622)