by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Plot: Ten-year-old orphan Mary moves from India to England, where she discovers the titular garden and some “magical” neighbors who greatly improve her outlook on life.
I’m not exactly in the target demo for this book, which is presumably children. But it’s easy to see why Burnett’s 1911 novel is considered a classic, with its vivid depiction of sour-faced Mary and the life lessons — the power of positive thinking; the healing effects of nature — that she and another child absorb at a mysterious mansion in Yorkshire.
Pros: The fun is in witnessing the gradual transformations of grumpy Mary and an even haughtier boy from spoiled brats to good kids. The Yorkshire dialect is quite amusing, as are the cantankerous dispositions of certain locals.
Cons: I could do with less of Burnett’s horticultural infatuation, which reminded me of the endless descriptions of masts and decks penned by Herman Melville in Moby Dick (of all books). I get that some authors love to wax rhapsodic about chrysanthemums and poppies and vines but … good grief, enough is enough.
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