The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

De Geheime Tuin
Frances Hodgson Burnett
(no pictures available for my cover)
(my edition no longer for sale)

Book review | The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett | 2 stars


Synopsis (English translation below)*

Als haar ouders gestorven zijn, wordt Mary Lennox naar haar oom in Engeland gestuurd, een eenzelvige man die veel op reis is. Daar, op huize Misselthwaite, een groot oud landhuis met wel honderd kamers, wordt ze overgelaten aan de zorgen van een huishoudster.

Omdat ze zich verveelt, gaat ze op onderzoek uit in de uitgestrekte tuinen van het landgoed. Ze ontdekt een ommuurde tuin, waarvan de toegangsdeur op slot zit en die haar nieuwsgierigheid opwekt. Maar de wonderlijkste ontdekking doet Mary op een stormachtige nacht, als ze niet kan slapen. In het oude huis klinkt tussen de bulderende winvlagen door het geluid van een huilend kind…

When her parents die, Mary Lennox is sent to her uncle in England, a solitary man who travels a lot. There, at Misselthwaite Manor, a large mansion with a hundred room, she is left in the care of a maid.

Because she’s bored, she goes out into the gardens of the estate to investigate. She discovers a walled garden, of which the door is locked and which sparks her curiosity. But the most marvelous discovery by Mary happens on a stormy night, when she can’t sleep. In the old house, in between the roaring gusts of wind she hears the sound of a crying child…


Usually, as you know, I’m a big fan of children’s books. This one however, couldn’t please me. To start off, I found the characters very unrealistic. Mostly due to the over-stating of certain of their characteristics. Take for example Mary, it is constantly pointed out how ugly she looks, as well as, how ugly her characters is. Nothing, nothing is redeeming about her in the beginning. The same goes for Colin. How is this realistic? Especially when in a matter of a few days both go through a complete change. All the other characters don’t have much of a personality at all. No, I wasn’t able to relate to any of the characters.

I also felt that instead of telling a story with great care and detail, this story was told very broadly. The story line wasn’t very detailed. More like: child discovers secret garden, plays in it and becomes a better person. I didn’t find it very satisfying at all.

I did however like the change of character for Mary and Colin; no matter whether it was unrealistic or not. I also enjoyed the descriptions of the garden and the child’s view on plants starting to grow again in spring. Then again, I did not really like the use of the word “magic” to describe the power of nature. Later on in the book it’s made clear that words don’t really matter, but of course it’s god, because well, god. I don’t like books that at first sight seem to have nothing to do with religion and suddenly it’s all there in your face (Yes, Chronicles of Narnia, I’m looking at you!). I don’t have anything against religion per se, but reading a book that’s not about religion and then BOOM! IN YOUR FACE! God is the answer to everything! That annoys me to no end.

So no, this book wasn’t for me.

*Freely translated from Dutch

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