CSLJ Book Club Discussion of The Secret Garden – Day 1

CSLJ Book Club Discussion of The Secret Garden – Day 1

Hello and welcome to the first day of our week-long book club discussion of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett! I hope you all enjoyed the book and I am really looking forward to hearing your thoughts and opinions about this classic story.

For those of you who are new to the CSLJ Book Club, here’s how it all works. Every day I will post new discussion questions here on my blog and on the C. S. Literary Jewelry Facebook page.  To join in the conversation, simply leave a comment on either post and then check back later to see and respond to what your fellow book lovers had to say.  The discussion will last a week and while I would like to encourage everyone to participate as much as possible, it’s alright if you aren’t able to respond on all seven days. Simply chime in when you are able to or, if you like, you can go back to a discussion question at a later time and post your response when you get the chance. I will be sending out a daily email to let everyone know when the latest discussion question have been posted and providing the links to the new posts. If you would like to receive these notifications, you can sign up here.

And now, without further ado, here are the first batch of discussion questions…

  • What did you think of The Secret Garden? Did you like it? Why or why not?
  • Were there any parts of the book that you particularly liked or disliked?  Why?
  • Who was your favorite character? What did you like about them?
  • Did the fact that The Secret Garden is considered a children’s book impact your enjoyment of the book?
  • Is this your first time reading The Secret Garden? If not, when was the last time you read it and has your opinion of the book changed at all?

Leave a comment with your thoughts on today’s discussion questions here  or head over to Facebook and join in the conversation there. You may also want to check out my previous blog post with my favorite Secret Garden – inspired Etsy finds, including handmade jewelry, accessories, art, and decor.

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14 Responses to CSLJ Book Club Discussion of The Secret Garden – Day 1

  1. I’ve always loved The Secret Garden and read it about once a year, just around the time when winter seems like its never going to end and I am ready to climb the walls with cabin fever. It helps me keep things in perspective and reassures me that spring will eventually get here – even if I have to keep a sharp eye out for signs that it is on the way.

    My favorite part of the book is when Mary first discovers the garden and then watching it come alive. There is such a sense of wonder and joy in the passages that describe the garden that really appeals to me.

    On the other hand, when I read the book as a little girl, I never really noticed the book’s less than enlightened attitude towards India and Indians but there are passages in the book that make me cringe a little as an adult. Still, the book is a product of its time and I try to keep that in mind when I am reading and not let it get in the way of the Magic of the story.

    My favorite character is the Robin. He is just so cheeky and full of personality and is a little bit of Magic all in himself. I was always rather fond of Martha too, especially since she doesn’t get enough credit for putting up with Mary at her worse and for setting Mary on the path to redemption by telling her about the garden and bringing Dickon into the situation to help Mary along.

    As for the book being a children’s book, there’s a comment over on the Facebook page that said that The Secret Garden transcends age and I think that is certainly true. There’s a lot in the book about what kind of thoughts preoccupy us and how they impact the kind of person we are and I think that is a valuable concept for anyone of any age. I also love the thought of having something special, something private just for yourself is such a beautiful thing. In Mary’s case, it happened to be a garden but it could be anything really – just something that speaks to you and gives you a sense of peace and joy. That’s what the Secret Garden is to me and regardless of it you have found it already or are still searching for the door or the key to unlock it with, it’s something that resonates very deeply with both adults and children – possibly even more with adults since we – like Archibald Craven – know how hard it is to find and hold on to our own personal gardens.

  2. I like The Secret Garden. I particularly like the parts where Mary and Collin interact, those moments when she imparts wisdom that is still so new to her and when her temper is put to good use. I like that Mary is neither perfectly pretty or perfectly tempered. To me, The Secret Garden is a well told story and if you enjoy it, then it’s for you no matter your age. That said, I did not really like it as a child. I much preferred A Little Princess, which I read over and over as a girl.

  3. I really enjoyed reading The Secret Garden. I had wanted to grow a vegetable garden this year and reading about all the flowers and plants pushing their way up through the earth helped to keep me on track with my planning!
    I loved reading about the garden coming alive and changing. The last couple of years I think I have been so busy that I don’t take much time to really notice the small and subtle changes that start each seasons. Reading about the garden coming alive has helped me to take time to notice nature more.

    • I couldn’t agree more Robin! If there was ever a book that encouraged you to stop and smell the roses, it’s The Secret Garden.

      Good luck with your own garden? What did you decide to grow in it?

      • I am growing chives, sage, parsley, cilantro, basil, thyme, lettuce, regular tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, costoluto Genovese Italian heirloom tomatoes, hot peppers, sugar daddy peas, cucumber lemons, and spinach. Also some flowers: purple triple daturas, alyssum, morning glories and sunflowers.

        Not a lot but I didn’t want to overwhelm myself with too much at once.

        • Sounds like a wonderful garden! I have always wanted one of my own but I don’t have the time and space to dedicated to one yet. Plus, I once managed to kill a fake houseplant so I am a little worried about the havoc I could play on real plants in a garden!

  4. Believe it or not, this was my first time reading the Secret Garden and if not for this book club and blog (which I just started to follow), I wouldn’t have read it at all. But I enjoyed it very much. My favorite character was Dickon. I loved how he interacted with the animals and the garden. He brought out the best in Mary and Colin. The fact that this was a children’s book made me wish that I had read it when I was younger, I don’t know how I missed it. I was glad there was some resolution between Colin and his father. As an adult reader, I kept waiting for that.

    • Welcome Kim! I know how you feel about discovering a great children’s book after your childhood. I can’t tell you how often I add a book to the “I can’t believe I haven’t read this before” pile. I somehow missed out on reading the Narnia books until I was in my 20’s and just read Peter Pan for the first time a little while ago. But the wonderful thing about The Secret Garden is that it is magical at any age!

  5. Hi I’m sorry I’m late to the discussion. I’ve been in a reading slump and didn’t start the book till Wednesday but I finished it last night thankfully. This was my first time reading the Secret Garden. I’m happy to have finally read the book. I really liked the character of Rickon. He went very out of his way for Mary and Colin. I did like the interactions between Mary and Colin though. It was very hard for me to get into the book at first though sadly mostly cause of my readers block but also cause Mary is so unlikable at first but once she found the garden I started getting very into the story.

    • Welcome Leslie! So glad you could make it to the discussion. (Aren’t reading slumps the worse!?)

      I totally agree that Dickon is rather magical – just like the garden itself. It’s kind of funny that out of the three of them, he is the poorest and the most likely to go to bed hungry but he is the happiest and healthiest of the bunch.

      As for Mary, she was rather an unlikeable little tyrant at the beginning but I think that is one of the reason I like the book. It can get to be a bit much reading the old children books where all of the characters are pretty and sweet and always so well-behaved. Mary feels very real to me and reading about her transformation helps me mind my own attitude when I am feeling “quite contrary” And I love that even after she found the garden and has started to change, she can still throw a temper tantrum if need be. She never gets too domesticated if you know what I mean.

  6. LOL Leslie! I can really tell you what happened. It was before I had my cat or I would have suspected some foul play. All I know is that the think drooped and fell apart in a rather demoralizing way.

    I don’t know that I would have taken responsibility for it if it hadn’t happened after my last live houseplant died in a rather dramatic way. I had it on a counter in my kitchen next to the only window in the room but I kept forgetting to water it. We had a massive rainstorm with water sheeting down the window and the poor dessicated plant had its one remaining leaf pressed against the glass in one last effort to get to water.

    After he saw that, my hubby suggested that I shouldn’t have houseplants anymore and when the fake plant also died on my watch, I really couldn’t argue with him.

  7. Robin. I love Robin and Robin’s mate, especially when they are commenting on the little humans on the ground. Of course I love Dickon, and Susan, and crusty Ben Weatherstaff himself, whose backstory probably would make a great book too!

    (It’s been a long time since I first read the book – somehow, time blotted out the memory of the colonialism, racism, and sexism, leaving only the garden and the robin. Hmmm. I won’t fall into the trap of judging a book by modern standards, since that’s not only not fair, not the point, and silly, but disrespectful to honest portrayals of how things were.)

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