Book Review: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

“One of the strange things about living in the world is that it is only now and then one is quite sure one is going to live forever and ever and ever. One knows it sometimes when one gets up at the tender solemn dawn-time and goes out and stands out and throws one’s head far back and looks up and up and watches the pale sky slowly changing and flushing and marvelous unknown things happening until the East almost makes one cry out and one’s heart stands still at the strange unchanging majesty of the rising of the sun–which has been happening every morning for thousands and thousands and thousands of years. One knows it then for a moment or so. And one knows it sometimes when one stands by oneself in a wood at sunset and the mysterious deep gold stillness slanting through and under the branches seems to be saying slowly again and again something one cannot quite hear, however much one tries. Then sometimes the immense quiet of the dark blue at night with the millions of stars waiting and watching makes one sure; and sometimes a sound of far-off music makes it true; and sometimes a look in someone’s eyes.”

France Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

Title: The Secret Garden
Author: Frances Hodgson Burnett
Genres: Classics, Historical Fiction, Middle Grade
Pages: 291 (Hardcover)
Published: August 1st, 1911

My Rating: ★★★★★
Read: 5/1/2023 – 6/1/2023


I’ve wanted to read this book for years and kept putting it off. I wish I hadn’t waited so long because it’s such a lovely story. Outdated in places, certainly, but it shares an overall message about the nurture of nature. 

Mary Lennox is sent to live with a distant uncle after the death of her parents. Having grown up unloved and spoiled, Mary has a sour disposition and temperamental nature. Her uncle Archibald is a widower who spends most of his time away from his locked-up estate. Mary is more confused by the locked doors than the idea of being essentially left to herself. 

Her contrary manner begins to mellow the longer she’s in the house. She comes to know the help who show her for the first time what it feels like to be cared for by someone. Soon, she finds herself among friends who have also felt outcast and unwanted through their circumstances. They come together in the secret garden to bring life into the place that has been shut up for a decade.

I always assumed this story was akin to Anne of Green Gables. Though there are some similarities, the narration is far different. I was most impressed by Colin’s storyline. I’m always fascinated by the psychology of characters, but to read such a complex example of mental health having the ability to deteriorate the body felt before its time was fascinating. 

Listening to this book on audio while walking enhanced my reading experience. The imagery of nature felt even more vivid while out in it. I wish I hadn’t waited so long to experience this story! I’m looking forward to watching the film now. 

Likes & Dislikes:

What I liked:

  • The imagery of nature and messages of healing through nature.
  • Mary’s character growth.
  • Colin’s determination and character growth.

What I didn’t like:

  • The ending was so abrupt and unbelievable with a different perspective than the rest of the book.


This quickly became a classic favorite. I can see myself re-reading or re-listening in the near future.

I’m not sure how to categorize the age group. Nowadays I wouldn’t consider it a children’s book though it could be enjoyed by a child. It’s not quite young adult either so I’m going with middle grade.

Where to buy the book:

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