Not putting away childish things…………..
There are books from my childhood that I have no memory of, and then there are those books which made a huge impression, and loomed large, and have been periodically, and pleasurably, read again throughout my adult life. And this is one, my absolute favourite of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s works.
My guess is that any little girl with the remotest thread of fierce independence in her nature will identify with Mary and will also have idolised and envied Dickon, with his ability to charm the birds and squirrels from the trees, fox-cubs from their lairs, not to mention surly adults and surlier children!
Written in 1911, there are of course attitudes to class and race which are deeply patronising, but what enchanted me so as a child was the delight in and celebration of, the natural world, in a way which almost verges on the mystical. As a child (and an adult) who had a huge love of the plant and animal kingdom ‘The Secret Garden’ spoke to me powerfully. My guess this book feeds right into some deeply satisfying archetype of a lost, but recoverable, Paradise, which even a child resonates with.
Delighted to find a Kindle version with illustrations. The formatting isn’t perfect – the full page illustration and its caption occur on separate pages, and often there is also a blank page (not a missing page) before the picture, but this is a minor interference to enjoyment.
The illustrations on the digital version I have are by the American illustrator Tashia Tudor. (though in black and white rather than the colour of the paper version) Unfortunately the American digi version with Tudor’s drawings either seems to be a hideously expensive out of print paper version, or a very cut down (dumbed down?) version of the original rewritten for a younger audience. Why? Tudor’s illustrations are lovely, very in keeping with the period of the book. UK Kindlers are fortunate to be able to have the combination of the proper text, and the lovely illustrations. Having your cake and eating it indeed!
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