I would read this book all the time in grade school and enjoy reading it again from time to time. Orphaned Mary is sent from India, where she was born and semi-raised by inattentive parents who die in a cholera epidemic, to England to be raised by an uncle she didn't know she had. She's mostly kept under the care of the house manager and finds the garden of the title that had once belonged to her aunt. Of course, she becomes healthier and less sallow as she tends the garden. She discoverers her cousin, Colan, that was shut up in his room because he was a bratty invalid. She tells him about the garden and they take care of it together. I never liked the ending, how the story focused more on Colan as he got better and wanted to "practice magic" to make his own dad come back. Poor Mary just gets shoved in the background. Other than that, I love this book and think anyone who likes the outdoors and gardens and wants a place of their own would enjoy it. As a kid, I actually fell asleep once as I was reading the part where Mary describes the garden to Colan, just before he goes to see it. In the book, as he was falling asleep, I fell asleep too. I had also read "The Little Princess" by the same author and felt it didn't pack the same emotional punch. This one is one I'd pass onto the kids I know in my life.
I had tried to read this book perhaps two or three times in my childhood, but had always been put off by the first few paragraphs, which spoke of a “tyrannical and selfish little pig” of a girl who “was yellow because she had been born in India.” The introduction of the book conveyed the image of such a negative and disagreeable character that I didn’t feel like going on! Recently, however, I was required to read Burnett’s The Secret Garden for one … more