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Book Review: The Secret Garden

By: Sahar Abdul Karim

The secret to happiness and altruism. The novel revolves on a selfish, mean-spirited lead, whose journey towards acquiring self-knowledge commences with an unlocked door. 

The secret garden is one of the best publications of an American playwright and author Frances Hodgson Burnett. She has written numerous novels and earned a great name in the children’s literature. Her every book has a diverse history about the the society. She has published legion books, but “A little Princess” is one of the most selling books which contains an impressive moral for the ones who love to read her. This has also influenced several adults and children worldwide. Similarly, the book, “The Secret Garden” is among the marvelous literary works of her and one of the most influential books has been read frequently. This book was published in 1911 and was considered to be in the list of  illustrious works in children’s literature. This book is comprised of 27 chapters and 237 pages.

The Secret Garden opens by introducing to us, a 10 year-old girl namely Mary Lennox, a sickly, foul-tempered, unsightly little girl who loves no one and whom no one loves. She is a daughter of a dynamic army captain, who lives in India.  Marry is a girl of infrequent intellectual potentials but having a character of selfishness within. As a child she was unloved and ignored by her parents. Howbeit, she was always desirous for seeking love and affection because she was ignored and grown in the guardianship of the maidservants.

At the onset of the story, Mary’s family lives in India. They are very rich. Unluckily, she became an orphan at an early age due to the outbreak of cholera epidemic which triggered with leaving no one alive but herself. After her parents’ demise, Marry was sent to live in England, Yorkshire with her maternal uncle, Archibald Craven.

Hopefully, there she was fostered by an honest maidservant, Martha Sowerby. She attempts influencing Mary’s character with her fairly words and stories. Martha Sowerby tells Mary about Dickon, the 12 years old brother of her to whom Mary’s personality matches. She always got inspired by listening to the stories told by the caring maidservant.

More importantly, Mary do love nature so as does Dickon. They both adore flowers and plants. As Mary gets to know little about the Craven’s garden, therefore, she becomes curious to know more about it. She asks multiple questions to Martha (her Maidservant) about the unexplored garden and later hears about a secret garden from her, she let her be acknowledged that this garden belonged to the late mistress Craven. The garden has been locked after her death and the key has been buried there beneath the earth.

After so much struggle, Mary’s determination in visiting the garden gets fulfilled by getting an old key which opens the lock of the garden. She enters the garden and finds her existence in another world where beauty relaxes her soul and spirit.

On a sudden, the life of this little selfish girl turns into a miracle, she had ever devised. She with the help of her cousin Colin Craven, who Mary finds in a dark night. where she hears the distant cries but in spite of prohibition of going out Mary goes off in a search. Whose life is influenced by Mary and Dickon, latter renovates uplifting the unnoticeable garden. Like Mary and Dickon, Colin is influenced by the nature. He would never come out until Mary came in his life. The little angels once again bring the garden to its old scenic beauty and they live every little moment in it.

Colin was born shortly before his mother’s death and his father cannot tolerate to look at him because the he painfully reminds him of his late wife. Colin has been disabled since his birth. It has been believed that he will become a hunchback (a person who has an abnormal curvature of the spine) and die an early death. Colin and Mary begin a friendship. That night, Colin throws one of the notorious frustration. Mary rushes to his room in a fury and commands him to stop crying. He tells her that his back is beginning to show a hunch. When Mary observes him, she finds nothing whatever the matter with him. Hereafter, she will maintain that Colin’s illness is only in his mind. He will be well if only he makes up his mind to be.

Dickon and Mary secretly start bringing Colin with them out into the secret garden. One day they come across to discover another contemporary of them, Ben Weatherstaff, who has been secretly tending the secret garden for almost ten years. He looks after at the garden because of showing his loyalty to Mistress Craven. Ben Weatherstaff forces Colin to stand up on his own feet for the first time in his life, which he does. After this feat, Colin’s health improves miraculously. The children determine to keep Colin’s improvement a secret, however, so that he can surprise his father with his recovery when Master Craven returns from his trip abroad.

Four of the children usually spend days of the summer in the secret garden. Another person who was allowed to the garden was Susan Sowerby, Dickon’s virtuous mother. Who sends a letter to Master Craven, telling him without pointing any specification to come back home soon. Master Craven returns instantly and his first act is to go into the secret garden. He does so at the behest of a dream in which the voice of his late wife told him that he might find her in the secret garden. Just as he lays his hand to the doorknob, Colin comes rushing out and falls into his arms. Father and son are reunited and the miracle of Colin’s recovery becomes known to all.

However, Mary was a girl of uncommon intellectuals, selfishness and disagreement. Finally, she made her own world where her spirit and soul sought peace.  She, being a girl who craves for love, was always unloved by her own people and was compelled to struggle for love and affection. Thence, she found love in nature. Because she finds nature another world for her spirit. Consequently, she searched the smell of loved ones in the scents of flowers and wore the colors of nature.

The secret Garden is one of the best books that I have read ever and this inspirational book winds down the soul and compels the readers to recognize the beauty of nature along with its positive impression on human spirit. Let your soul gain peace in nature. Find love in it and follow its rhythms by adapting each moment. I would love to recommend this book to everyone. Because one who reads it, it would be enable to bring a change in the philosophy.

Published in The Balochistan Point on April 25, 2020

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