Monday, July 09, 2012

The Secret Garden or WTF Ending?

I am 31 years old, and I just read The Secret Garden. Now you may think this a horrible tragedy, but I was not unaware of the story. I, like so many other kids, devoured this film version in 1993, and as with so many other watched-the-film-first works of literature, I just kinda never got around to the book. Incidentally, during most of my childhood I was wholly taken with horror novels of the R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike variety, so that's another reason I didn't tarry with Mary, Colin, and Dickon.

When Heather popped up and asked if I wanted to read a classic as a buddy read, I hopped on this opportunity. Sadly, my buddy finished FOREVER before I did (because I'm slow like that). But I'm glad she prompted me to read it because I really did enjoy this classic children's work.

For those of you even more clueless about this novel than me:
Mary is raised in India with no attention from her worthless parents. She's spoiled and given any and everything she wants by the servants at her disposal. When her parents die, she's sent to her uncles estate on the English moors: Misselthwaite Manor. There she learns not to be such a bratty, snotty little jerk because she meets a snotty little jerk just as spoiled rotten as she is. And they're good for one another. 
The parts I liked: The imagery is awesome. The writing is smooth and pleasing. There's lots of good symbolism (knowledge, Garden of Eden type stuff; also puberty/acknowledgement of the opposite sex symbolism). Yadda yadda. Very classically literary.

Now, for the part that surprised me a bit: WHAT HAPPENED TO MARY! This was Mary's story for about 85% of the book and by the end she'd been completely overshadowed by the plight of another character. LAME-O. As much as I liked seeing the characters evolve and grow, I was a little ticked that the ending seemed so abrupt and cut Mary out of the equation, essentially.

But overall, I liked more than I disliked about this book. I'm sure I would've enjoyed it as a kid and the lessons -- especially those encapsulated by the ending -- would've gone a long way with me. 


Rating:
Snuggle (A chaste, polite one) -- Skewer



Edition Pub. Date: January 2012
Publisher: Halcyon Press
Format: E-book
BN ID: 2940013724839
Source: Purchased by me

19 comments:

  1. I have never read this, nor seen the movie, so I am totally clueless about this story, and now I think I need to read it. I want to be curious and perplexed by the ending too! I need to get cracking because there are so many classic titles that I have ignored all of my life! Great and very balanced review today.

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    1. Thank ya! It's a good, quick read. You'd probably knock it off in an afternoon. I'm looking forward to reading another Burnett, A Little Princess.

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  2. I read this SO LONG ago that I can only remember the movie, which I really loved. I have a copy on my shelves that has been staring me down for awhile. One of these days I am going to get around to reading it.

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  3. I've never read the book or seen the movie - how's that for a shocker? I hate when books have endings like that.

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    1. Kathy, it's a discussion-worthy ending, so I can't be too mad. Something my profs set me on about years ago -- 2007ish. Highly recommended!

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  4. Now, this is just a theory, or a feeling, and a misguided one I expect BUT. I think Mary's ending is so tied up with Colin's that they are hard to tell apart. In the healing of Colin, Mary healed a part of herself and the very fact that she was willing to step back and share (or have stolen) the spotlight says a lot about her growth as a character. The Mary from the beginning of the book would NOT have done that. Nor would she have been so pleased to see Colin so healed and new. At least, that's my theory and that's all the literary interpretation I am doing today, thank you very much. LOL

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    1. That is a damn fine literary analysis. And I can completely get onboard with that. BUT the other side of the coin is a question we pondered in grad school that basically Mary more or less "losers her spirit" or is somehow tamed and overtaken by Colin/this ending. I can read it both ways.

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    2. Ah yes, there is that. I really think we need that sequel we were discussing. Just to see how much "spirit" she lost. *wicked grin*

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  5. I read this book in the 4th grade. The only thing I remember about it is that one of the characters used a dialect, and I couldn't understand a thing he was saying.

    Your post just makes want to reread this, and explore all that symbolism I missed the first time. Also, this just feels like a beautiful book.

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  6. I read this one before that movie and have pretty much forgotten everything except for the fact that I desired to have my own, nice walled garden. Velly English, what? Loved the book, though -- I do recall that much. A Little Princess by the same author is my most beloved, reread, beat-up childhood book. I was oddly surprised when I found out Burnett had written MORE BOOKS! I guess because I was so young when I got my mitts on Princess. That makes me giggle, now. I loved the book but it didn't occur to me that the author might have written others? LOL

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  7. Cheers for reminding me of this classic I had forgotton what a gem it was :)

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  8. What a coincidence. I just started it for the first time!

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  9. I've read this one, but it was years ago. Have a new edition of this that just got added to the shelves so I'll find my way back to it eventually.

    I, too, was enamored with Stine and Pike. Horror trumped everything else.

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  10. I read this so long ago that I barely remember the story (as in practically not at all). I read Stine and Pike too...and Duncan...

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  11. La la la, I don't hear this criticism of one of my favourite childhood reads! :P

    Seriously though, when I reread as an adult I found lots of flaws (especially in the idealisation of the poor) but because I loved it as a child, it was still a magical read for me.

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  12. Yeah, definitely a WTF ending. Did you notice that Mary isn't even in that final pages of the book? *eye roll* We had a field day discussing this book in my children's lit classes.

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  13. It's been at least 40 years since I read this book and I've forgotten most of the details. I was hoping to read it with Bellezza, but time got away from me. Maybe next month when my granddaughter is here for 2 weeks. She'll be 10, so maybe we can read it together.

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  14. Ha! We read this earlier this year in my book club, and I remember feeling the same way you did. Actually, this was one book I could never enjoy as a kid. I appreciated it more as an adult. Go figure!

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