The Secret Garden
2016 Book Challenge: a book a friend recommended
by Frances Hodgson Burnett
narrated by Johanna Ward
(children’s fiction, classic fiction)
I somehow managed to avoid reading this one as a child. (I suspect it had something to do with this being “a children’s book”. I was rather proud of the fact that I could read well above my grade level, and so was sometimes kinda snobbish about which books I chose to read for pleasure. However, it could also easily be because this was not a fantasy or even adventure book. Even now, I still prefer to read fantasies, but I will read more mundane books as well. At the time, I almost never elected to read a non-fantasy book. Most of the ones I read were class assignments, and this book was never assigned to me for school.)
Anyway, in my adult life I have had many people recommend this book to me. They find out I never read it as a kid, and it becomes a new “must read”. So eventually, I picked up the Audible version and listened to that.I’m glad I went with the Audible version. The broad Yorkshire used in the story is much more enjoyable to listen to than I suspect it would have been to read. And the narrator, Johanna Ward, does a great job with this book.
What did I think about the book itself? It has certainly earned its place as a classic novel. (Though there are some race-related comments that must be taken in context of the era.) I enjoyed listening to it. This is not one that I need to revisit often, though, I think. I’m glad to have read it, but it won’t be on my keeper shelf. This might be different if I had first read it as a child. I might have associated more with the main characters if I was closer to their age, and therefore it might mean more to me. Coming to it for the first time as an adult, however, it’s an enjoyable book but not one that really speaks to me personally.
So should you read it? If you, like me, haven’t read it before, then yes, I do think you should. Not just girls or women, either; I think boys and men would be equally benefited by the read. I do think this is one best approached for the first time as a youth, though. So I’m more likely to suggest that you read it with your daughter or son, if applicable – there’s a lot in there which can be discussed as a family during the reading of it.