Book: The Secret Garden

"The Secret Garden" by Frances Hodgson BurnettOrphaned and sent to live with her uncle in his austere manor on the moors, Mary Lennox is a lonely and unhappy child. A meeting with Dickon, her servant’s brother begins her adventure and it is through their friendship and her relationship with her troubled hypochondriac cousin Colin that she begins to learn about herself. Their lives all begin to change when a Robin shows Mary the door to a mysterious secret garden.

There’s a reason why some stories become classic. Because no matter how long ago they were written, they could still touch hearts and lives in the present.

My first exposure to The Secret Garden was through a Japanese animated series that was dubbed into the local language. I loved watching cartoons when I was a kid. Yeah, I said cartoons. There were no distinctions back then on whether something was a cartoon or an animé. My mornings, whenever we didn’t have school, was scheduled around the Japanese cartoons that would be shown. One of them was The Secret Garden.

Back then, I loved the plucky character of Mary. Miss Mary who was quite contrary. A girl with an attitude problem sent to live in an almost-abandoned mansion with no one to keep her company. And then she found the Robin, and then the garden, and then she started to like people. It’s a tale of self-discovery, of friendship, of making the most of what you have–and being happy with what was given you. It’s a simple story of choosing to be happy.

Reading The Secret Garden now, I am reminded how great stories don’t need to rely on gimmicks and unexpected twists. All you need is a story that comes from the heart, and the talent to tell that story well. And it also helps to have written the story in the age of innocence, when people weren’t so desensitized with the shock value of the things they’ve seen/read.

This is just my opinion, but I feel we need more stories like this. While I’m a big fan of world-buildin, and great fantastical stories, I can’t help but appreciate the ones that can spin magic in the most ordinary of worlds too.