Kate's Queen City Notes

Blundering through Cincinnati, laughing all the way

100 Books by 40: THE SECRET GARDEN

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Am I the only person who didn’t know that The Secret is based on ideas in The Secret Garden? An internet search is telling me that, no, this isn’t common knowledge. Let me back-up a moment.

I just finished reading The Secret Garden. It seemed like a charming children’s book until the end. The premise of the story is that a spoiled little girl losses her parents to cholera and is shipped to a mysterious mansion to live with a distant relative. The girl gains entry to a locked garden and discovers many other things regarding the mysterious mansion. While on this adventure, she becomes a nicer child and puts off some of her bratty ways. So far so good.

In the third to last chapter, one of the children has a very long “sermon”, the book’s word, not mine. This sermon basically extols the virtues of positive thinking.  While I was reading page after page of this, I thought when did this children’s book morph into a self-help title? Further more, I am wondering if Rhonda Byrne (author of The Secret) gave any credit to Frances Hodgson Burnett (author of The Secret Garden). My quick and sloppy googling didn’t show any acknowledgement, but I freely admit that I didn’t invest more than 5 minutes on searching.

So, I’m wondering why Burnett added this bit to her book. It would have been a charming story without it. I suppose the character transformation is partially explained by this, but she provides equally plausible explanations such as fresh air, physical activity, and good friendship. I can only think that conveying the power of positive thinking was important to Burnett, given that she shoe-horned it into the story line.

Regardless of this mystery, the book is a pleasant read. In terms of the other children’s books on the list, it doesn’t beat out Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. But it’s quite short and could easily be read in a week. Oh, and this was my first title that I borrowed from the Hamilton County Library on my Kindle. It was pretty easy. I will gladly do that again.

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