Everything is made out of Magic, leaves and trees, flowers and birds, badgers and foxes and squirrels and people. So it must be all around us.
What an utterly delightful and charming story. Written for children, this is a wonderful tale of the magic of friendship. It was a short, easy read that was so adorable that I couldn’t put it down because I just had to know what happened next. Sometimes kids’ things can be trite and lame, but since this is actual literature, written during a time when writing was actually writing and people read for entertainment, the story is not silly or otherwise lame.
It is about a little girl, Mary, who had been living in in colonial India until her parents died of cholera. She was a disliked, horrid little brat who was used to servants waiting upon her. She was so spoiled and lazy that she could hardly dress herself. After the death of her parents, she is sent to live in England with her uncle.
Her uncle is a sad case. His wife died 10 years ago and he hadn’t yet gotten over it. He had a son, Colin, who was an invalid since birth. Well, actually, he wasn’t an invalid. He was just a hypochondriac. His father had a slight hump in his back so it was widely believed that Colin would also have a hunch in his back since he was a difficult birth (which is how the mother died). He was always very sickly and in those times, instead of doing things to be more healthful, it was widely believed that if you just laid in bed and took a bunch of pills you could probably be cured of whatever ails you. So Colin pretty much laid in bed his whole life, crying and whining about everything, believing that he was going to die simply because the doctors had told him so.
Meanwhile, Mary has been told to amuse herself and not to bother anybody so she spends most of her time wandering around the big old house and the grounds surrounding. She finds an abandoned garden that belonged to the wife of her uncle before she died. The garden, Mary believes, is enchanted. Before she came to England, she didn’t like to do anything. It was always very hot in India so she just laid around and demanded her servants to wait on her. Now, in the garden she likes to run and play and do fun things. She meets a neighbourhood boy and the two decide to plant things in the abandon garden to make it pretty again.
Soon after, Mary and Colin meet each other and she doesn’t feel sorry for him at all. She gets tired of his whining and crying, and realising that he reminds her very much of how she used to be, she decides that nothing is wrong with Colin at all and that he just wants attention. So Colin, Mary and the neighbourhood boy start hanging out in the secret garden and they discover all kinds of wonderful things. The beauty in making things grow appears to be a kind of magic for them. Instead of being an ugly, disagreeable child, Mary transform into a pretty young lady. Colin is suddenly “healed” by the magic of the garden. Prior to all this, he’d been confined in a wheelchair because everybody thought he was going to get a hump in his back and die. Being in the garden makes him want to run, jump and play, something he has never done before.
In the end, the children all learn something about themselves. Colin and Mary had never had any friends before, they were both such frightful, horrible little children who thought themselves better than everyone. They learned a great deal from the neighbourhood boy who was much poorer than they were. They all learn how to be friends and to grow things. They learn how to take a delight in what’s around them. Most importantly, they learn how to stop being so self-sorry.
I really enjoyed this book and it was a welcome change after the last three novels where everybody died in the end.
Next, in honour of Hallowe’en, I’ll read Bram Stoker’s Dracula.