The Canon: The Secret Garden

First things first: I read this book on my Kindle! For the first year (plus?) I've had the thing, I really haven't used it, but now that I'm traveling I understand the appeal. Thousands of books at the drop of a hat! Your suitcase doesn't come in overweight! La la la hooray!

In any case the formatting was fine. I could count the number of noticeable typos/formatting errors on one hand, which I consider acceptable. I also got The Secret Garden for free on the Kindle, which may have affected the quality. On to the review!

I LOVE this book. I had no idea. A Little Princess and The Secret Garden have been in my library for forever, but somehow Mary Lennox got the short stick compared to the exceptional goodness of Sara Crewe. My read count for this book is probably in the 5-10 range (compared to 20+ for A Little Princess), but I haven't read it in a while, and I was completely hooked right from the first line:
"When Mary Lennox was sent to Misselthwaite Manor to live with her uncle everybody said she was the most disagreeable child ever seen. It was true, too."
It's perfect, and it sets the tone for the rest of the book. Mary is disagreeable, whiny, and strange, but she's such a compelling character with such an interesting viewpoint. I think this is what makes her more interesting to me than Sara Crewe. Sara is just so GOOD all the time. Mary has some contrariness going for her. (This is not to say that A Little Princess isn't wonderful too. It is. I'll have to write a canon post for that one later.)

My one quibble with the story is Colin. Colin himself is fine, but from the moment he appeared on stage, the story became much more about his getting better and his relationship with his father, and much less about Mary. Mary seemed relegated to the position of "excellent female helpmate on the male's journey to growth and self-acceptance," which is such a shame.

The language is lovely. Mary is great. The moor and the manor and the garden are blustery, creepy, and lush, respectively. This is a classic that is without a doubt deserving of its status.

In case any of you love this book and haven't seen the 1993 adaptation, allow me to recommend it here. There was a set of three films made at roughly the same time, with the same sort of feeling and in some cases the same actors, and they are all great. (These are A Little Princess, Black Beauty, and The Secret Garden, if I recall correctly.) The film is lovely and really captures the feeling of the book. It also balances the Mary-Colin-Archibald relationship much better than it's portrayed in the book. The movie is more obviously framed around Mary and her perspective, which I love. More Mary! Less whiny Colin! (Also, Maggie Smith!)

Anyway, read the book, watch the movie. They are lovely lovely lovely. Both will be on my shelves for ever.