Monday, July 20, 2009

Rediscovering The Secret Garden

Last night I reread The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett for the first time since I was about 10 years old. I had largely forgotten it. It's so passionate!

There's innocence, sensuality, hatred, awe and reverence, malevolence, love. It's great stuff even though it does have a wussy ending, but hey, it's a children's novel from last century after all. It's no Harry Potter. All the characters who die, do so in the first pages and you don't really care about them.

No wonder I loved Wuthering Heights when I was 17 and 18. I had been prepped for it in a way, seven years before.

There are so many great bits in it, including the passionately fierce battle of wills between Mary and Colin which ends in quiet intimacy and release (told you, it as everything). And I also love this:

'Oh, Dickon! Dickon!' she cried out. "How could you get here so early! How could you! The sun has only just got up!'

He got up himself, laughing and glowing, and tousled; his eyes like a bit of the sky.

'Eh!' he said. 'I was up long before him. How could I have stayed abed! Th' world's all fair begun again this morning', it has. An' it's workin' an' hummin' an' hummin' an' scratch' an' pipin' an' nest-building' an' breathin' out scents, till you've got to be out on it 'stead o' lyin' on your back. When th' sun did jump up, th' moor went mad for joy, an' I was in the midst of th' heather, an' I run like mad myself, shoutin' an' singin'. An' I come straight here. I couldn't have stayed away. Why, th' garden was lyin' here waitin'!

Mary put her hands on her chest, panting, as if she had been running herself.

'Oh, Dickon! Dickon!' she said. 'I'm so happy I can scarcely breathe!'

Ah! Guess I'm still a big fat Romantic after all.
Tell me, does anyone still write like this for children?

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