by Frances Hodgson Burnett


Alishba Shahzad, National Winner
Hamdard Public School, Karachi
The novel ‘The Secret Garden’ is written by the famous novelist Frances Hodgson Burnett. She was an English-American playwright and author, best known for her children’s stories. Her other notable works include A little princess, Little Lord Fauntleroy, and That lass o’ lowries. The main theme of The Secret Garden is happiness. Basically, the secret of happiness in this book is to think less about yourself and more about the people and things around us. The story mainly concerns three children named Mary Cennox, Dickon Sowerly, and Colin Craven. Mary Cennox is a ten-year old British, spoiled, aggressive, and contrary girl raised in India. Her parents have no desire to see her, thus she is raised by servants. The extensive and complete attention has made her self-absorbed. After her parents and servants death, she is sent to live with her uncle, Archilald Craven, at Misseboraite Manor in Yorkshire, England. At the manor, she experiences several personality and mood changes. After learning about the ‘Secret Garden’, Mary begins to explore the other gardens, possibly to find the ‘Secret Door’. She finally manages to do so, by finding the key to the door is buried underground. After discovering the garden, she develops a new fondness towards plants and gardening. Further, she meets Dickon, an animal character, who helps her in ‘bringing the secret garden back to life’. Mary also discovers Colin, who happens to be Dr Craven’s son, who has an unspecified spinal problem. Colin is also a spoiled child with a cocky attitude, who hasn’t seen the outside world. Listening to the stories about the Secret Garden, he intends to see the garden for himself. He is taken on his wheelchair, by Mary and Dickon, on a tour of the garden, where he admires the natural beauty of the world. The garden gradually transforms Colin into a healthy and enthusiastic boy and cures his illness, which is just inside his head. It is assumed that the magic of the Secret Garden has transformed Mary and Colin utterly! The Secret Garden is an admirable piece of work, which focuses on the moral values of life. The characters are well described, and there are only a few additional characters, which is favourable. The story has humour as well as suspense, and all the scenes are thoroughly explained. I rate this book four out of five stars, and would recommend it to my peers, based on its amazing plot. I found the book fascinating and compelling, as it kept me engrossed in it until the conclusion.