March 7, 2008

Frances Hodgson Burnett: The Secret Garden

I wanted to read this book as soon as I finished reading The Little Princess. It took a while to get a copy because I got it from BookMooch, but I finally received it and just finished reading it last night.

As a kid I adored The Secret Garden movie. From the start of the book, I had it in mind and was able to notice some of the differences. I liked that the book began while Mary was still in her home in India. (I truthfully can't remember where the film began.) I felt it emphasized just how alone she was and had always been, something crucial to show the dramatic change she has during the course of the book because by the end she is quite happy and has friends. It's funny to compare the child that was at her uncle's the first morning who stiffly stood waiting for Martha to dress her versus the girl who wakes early, dresses herself, and runs out the door without anyone noticing her so she can slip into the garden.

I loved Martha's character and thought of the movie version even more so every time she was in a scene. Dickon was everything I thought he'd be based on the movie. It has been several years since I've seen the movie but one of the differences was in the character Mrs. Medlock. I just remembered her as being more of an unkind woman. I thought I remembered there being more disagreement to Colin's going outdoors. Perhaps that was Dr. Craven.

What is this book about? The title says it's about the garden, but that's if you take it without another meaning. What else could the garden be? Based on the reading, it felt like the story was changing from being about Mary to more so the garden, and then about Colin as well. By the end of the book, I noticed how less Mary seemed to be in the story and how more dominate Mr. Craven and his son were.

I was puzzled over the ending of the book because, from my having watched the movie so many times as a child, one of the parts I remembered most was Mary crying and running off upon Mr. Craven's return, and Mr. Craven and Colin joining her and they all sort of danced in a circle. I remember thinking it was because Mary had felt she was in trouble about the garden but once they joined her that it was not only okay, but that she no longer felt she wasn't part of a family but that she had her uncle and cousin for a family. This happy ending is not there in this book, but there is another that takes place in both the book and movie. I won't give away the ending so you'll just have to read it yourself.