(My Rating: 5/5)
This is only the second children’s book I have read since I reviewed The Railway Children by E. Nesbit some months ago, and I loved it for SO many reasons, that I am sure I will forget at least a few while writing this review!
At the beginning of the story, which was first published in 1911, we are introduced to Mary Lennox, a little English girl who has lived in India for all of her life, but now, under tragic circumstances, she is sent to live with her brooding, elusive uncle in England, in a large mansion on the Yorkshire moors.
Mary, who is a spoilt, fussy, difficult child soon realises that her new house and occupants seem to be hiding many secrets. She slowly begins to uncover some of these and undergoes a transformation in the process. She gradually discovers the joys of childhood that she knew nothing about before. Due to her interaction with some very kind and caring individuals – mainly the house help – she begins to grow healthy, less churlish and even considerate of others. From this point on there are more wonderful secrets she uncovers and more wonderful people that come into her life and she ultimately plays a vital role in restoring a damaged relationship.
I read this book during a time I was going through something very sad, as well as emotionally and physically draining. A story that inspired hope, spoke about the goodness of people transforming one’s life and about the possibility and joy of turning a seemingly hopeless situation into something beautiful, through determination, care and love, was just the sort of of story I needed to read. It reminded me, in the midst of my sorrow for something I had lost, to stop and notice the beauty that already exists, right now, in my life. Once again a book came into my life at just the right moment, and in a way, helped save me.
Hodgson Burnett does an excellent job of story telling, with a lovely cast of characters. I feel if every child in the world has a Susan Sowerby in their lives today, the world would surely be a better place tomorrow.
The books reminds us about the joy to be found in the simple things in life, such as taking the time to appreciate nature. It reminded me about the wonder and curiosity with which children look at the world and of their ability to touch even the most hardened of hearts with their uncomplicated, simple logic and gentle hearts.
Burnett intersperces the narration with observations, lessons and advice on human nature and life in general – all of which I found quite good.
For example, on Pg 345 she says:
“…Much more surprising things can happen to anyone who, when a disagreeable or discouraged thought comes into his mind, just has the sense to remember in time and push it out by putting in an agreeable, determinedly courageous one. Two things cannot be in one place.”
I particularly liked the part towards the end of the book, where the character Colin classifies the everyday wonder of nature, such as the sun rising, as well as the goodness in people that grows exponentially as it gets passed around to other people and has the ability to make miraculous things happen, quite simply as ‘magic’. I thought this simple classification was indeed quite accurate.
“Magic is always pushing and drawing and making things out of nothing.”
Now, isn’t there so much hope and positivity to be drawn from that statement!