Friday, 4 October 2013

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

My first foray into Audiobooks was the children's classic The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
Frances Hodgson Burnett

The beauty of the audiobook is that I can 'read' it whilst I'm doing other things, mostly driving, but you knew that anyway. Yes I'm late to the game. I only put it on when I knew I'd be listening to it and not concentrating on several things at once. I came across this audiobook via the app simply called Audiobooks and streamed it direct from my phone. It is part of the huge library on Librivox.org

It was read by Kara Shallenberg and as my first audiobook I found her tones were simple and didn't take me out of the story, although an American woman pulling off an old man's Yorkshire accent was startling at first! But she did it!

I picked The Secret Garden first as I always remembered a film version of it from my childhood but I could never reach those memories, and it turns out I made a lot of it up in my head.
The brash, rude 10 year old Mary is our eyes into her new English world, having been brought up in India by maids. Left alone in her new surroundings she is expected to live life like a child yet, she is so used to everything being done for her including dressing that it's a shock. The idea of 'playing' is alien to her but bit by bit she investigates the huge mansion and gardens, and one such garden in particular.

The garden has been locked up for 10 years and the mystery awakens Mary's sense of adventure. In India she had no friends and no inclination to speak to anyone but now in England she is slowly warming to becoming a child, and finding her childlike tendencies of inquisitiveness.
Leaves and things. It's a garden. And looks secretish.
These tendencies leads her to the young boys Dickon, the maid Martha's brother and keen gardener and later on, Colin, the master of the house's sickly demanding son. There is almost a chain in the relationships with Dickon very placid and calm, teaching Mary how to grow, both in the garden and emotionally, then Mary doing the same to Colin.

I enjoyed the book very much. At around two thirds of the way through I became a little frustrated at the pace, as I was enjoying the relationship between Mary and Dickon but it focuses more on Colin. It was written for children and if I'd had read it when I was 10 or so then it would have captivated me all the way through.

A healthy 6.5 on the comfometer

Michael
@bigcomfybooks
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