When I was little one of my favorite books was The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. She also wrote another book I loved, The Little Princess, which became a not very good movie starring Shirley Temple in 1939 and a lovely one in 1995. I probably read The Little Princess 2 or 3 times. The Secret Garden I had to have read at least 10 times – 11 if you count my re-reading it for this review. The story centers around nasty ill tempered Mary Lennox who is sent as an unloved orphan, though, honestly she was an unloved child while her parents were alive, from India to live with her uncle in Yorkshire. Yorkshire, the cold moors and gloomy world of the Brontes seems to have been the perfect world to set stories of thwarted love and lost children. Except these Yorkshire moors, although filled with secrets, are teeming with life.

Mary, who everyone describes so often as a nasty yellow thing with a pinched face and a terrible manner that she has accepted that description as fact, is a ten year old girl dropped in the middle of dark 100-room Misselthwaite Manor and left to her own devices by an absent guardian and an indifferent housekeeper. She is saved from complete boredom and a life of unloved imperiousness by the lovely maid, Martha, who’s stories of her brother, mother, and family intrigue Mary enough to get her out of the lonely house to explore the estate’s myriad gardens.

When I read this book I was probably Mary’s age and one of seven children. The idea of a 100 room house that I could have the run of and the mystery of a locked garden that I might discover and make my own was more magical to me than anything I had ever read