The Secret Garden written in 1911 by Frances Hodgson Burnett is the first novel I ever read and then immediately reread. I am sure this was because the world it contained was so beautifully written, and the book had such an intensity of feeling, that I couldn’t leave it.
The central character, Mary Lennox, is an unusual heroine. She is very hard to like. Rude, selfish, spoilt and
not at all beautiful – nothing about her is nice. One can pity her - she is after all an orphan - but she is not
a romantic orphan. She is neither passive nor sympathetic, but rather stubborn and curious, and it is these qualities that lead her to seek out the abandoned garden, which like her has grown wild with neglect.She sees the beauty in it and, as she nurtures it back to life, so she becomes a conduit for the healing power of the garden.
It is a powerful and beautifully simple parallel, one a child can readily understand, and so elegantly written that, a hundred years later, the book still feels profound and utterly relevant.