As a child this was one of my favourite books, read and re-read until my copy was beyond repair. The up-lifting story of a grumpy spoilt little girl sent from India to live at a big but lonely old manor in the English Countryside is a classic and deservedly so. Mary Lennox mellows as her friendships develop especially that with Dickon, a down-to-earth and good-hearted country boy, and Colin, Mary's indulged and sickly cousin hidden away in the depths of the old house, who also comes to find happiness.
The story is intelligently written with three-dimensional characters, the speech of the servants is presented with their dialect/accents in tact, and the children behave as real children would. Written in the early twentieth century, there's much to provoke discussion with today's children about how children lived and were treated a hundred years ago, the different lives and expectations of the servants and their families to those to the manor born, as well as those in Colonial India.
I was thrilled to come across this beautifully illustrated edition (in an approximately A4 format) with gorgeous timeless pictures which reflect perfectly the mood of the story and the era in which it was set. They also serve to make the book look attractive and appealing to the children of this generation. There's a picture on the majority of double page spreads, a mixture of black and white line drawings and a naturalists pictures of fauna and flora interspersed with ethereal misty full-colour illustrations that really pull you into a different world, that of the secret garden.
A book to truly treasure. Please please can we have Hodgson Burnett's The Little Princess equally beautifully illustrated next too?