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Book Review

Graham Rust

‘The Secret Garden’ is Frances Hodgson Burnett’s most enduring work. It is a beautiful story woven around the short period of time of the life of a little girl ‘Mary Lennox.’ The garden in the story was the layout of her own garden at her home in Long Island. Mary Lennox is a lonely, unwanted and hot tempered little girl living in India. She is neglected by her parents and has grown up under the care of her ayah. She is given whatever she wants and thus she turned to be a selfish and obstinate girl. Suddenly her parents die of cholera and she is sent to Yorkshire to stay with her uncle, Mr.Gaven in his big mansion. Mary is left there to roam about the house and the garden all by herself. But a change starts coming over her as she comes in contact with the ‘nature’ in the garden, the Yorkshire moor and a robin with whom she makes great intimacy. She slowly grows unselfish and more childish as she comes in close association with people like Martha, who gave her company occasionally after she came to Yorkshire and the gardener Ben Weathershaft. One day Mary stumbles across a ‘secret garden’ hidden behind an ivy clad wall. The garden belonged to her aunt and was closed down after she fell down from a swing in the garden and died. Mary sets to restore the garden with the help of Dickon, Martha’s brother who loves nature and spends most of his life on the moors. One day at night, she finds she finds her cousin Colin, who is weak and fragile. She takes him to the garden and together the three of them sets to restore the garden and Colin’s health. Colin gets stronger and at last is a perfect boy without any health complications. His father is a slight hunchback fearing that his son will be the same neglects him after Colin’s mother’s death. After he returns from a trip he finds Colin in perfect health in the garden he has renounced. Both of them walked together, hand in hand. ‘The Secret Garden’ like Burnett’s other stories deals with flesh and blood characters. Combined with her smooth flow of the story, you can feel as if you are a silent spectator of the events in the place in the story itself and you can feel the people from the book as if they were true. The picturesque description of the scenario helps the readers to form a clear image in their minds about the surroundings. The story lights up the thought that ‘nature is our mother’ as Mary and Colin grow to be lovely children under her care. Nature also helps to heal the broken bond between Mr.Gaven and Colin. ‘The Secret Garden is a masterpiece which lights up the relation between nature and humans.

– Trisrota Dhar, X B