1. Today intro and background to the book, have read half by June 10th and finished it by June 24th
2. Themes to be considered:
- June 3rd: Impact of being a TCK and childhood illness. This is the first time I’ve read this book with the lens of Mary as a TCK and how being ill during childhood influenced Colin
- June 10th: Loneliness (so many lonely people in this book!) HALF DONE WITH BOOK
- June 17th: Gardening (How could we not?)
- June 24th: Personal change of characters BOOK FINISHED
The Secret Garden is a book I’ve read multiple times as a kid, but haven’t reread in years. In fact I’m reading a copy of the book my mom gave me as a Christmas present in 1987. That being said, I knew nothing about the author, Frances Hodgson Burnett or the background to this book.
According to research I’ve done on the internet I’ve learned the following. (I don’t want to give the false impression I’m the kind of person who knows these things off the top of my head, I’m not :). I wasn’t an English major, my minor was in mathematics.)
Frances was born in England in 1849 but after the US Civil war her mother decided to relocate the family to Tennessee. (That begs so many questions, doesn’t it?! Why Tennessee? Why would you move your family to war torn area? I digress.) So, Frances wrote The Secret Garden from the US, but “over the years, England remained an active and important part of her life. She crossed the Atlantic no fewer than thirty-three times over her lifetime, often living abroad for a year or two at a time.”
Thirty three times! By boat. And I thought the amount of time I’ve spent on a plane was “considerable.” Ha!
The Secret Garden was originally serialized in 1910 and later was put together in a book (fun to look for where an end to an installment would have been). During her lifetime it wasn’t one of her more well-known works and “Burnett would be astonished today to learn that she is known primarily as a writer for children, when the majority of her fifty-three novels and thirteen produced plays were for adults.”
Two major life events have worked their ways into the plot and themes of The Secret Garden. The first was the death of her 16-year-old son in 1890. Frances was away from him when he began to get ill and she hurried home to be with him and found out the diagnosis was tuberculosis. She took him on a “desperate circuit of Europe” and he died in her arms in Paris. The second was the loss of a house in southern England she had leased for ten years. The owner decided to sell it and so she lost her England home and English gardens.
So, that’s a bit of background on The Secret Garden. Knowing a bit more of the history gets me excited! I look forward to next week talking about TCK’s and how childhood illness can impact the child and family.
Questions for discussion:
- The article referenced above said Frances “would be astonished today to learn that she is known primarily as a writer for children, when the majority of her fifty-three novels and thirteen produced plays were for adults.” When we move overseas, sometimes parts of our responsibilities or an aspect of our reputation or what we are known for changes. What is something you were known for back home that might surprise your teammates? Or something you’re known for now that might surprise folks back home.
- Are you the kind of person who likes to know more of the back story? Or not so much J. Both welcome! Just curious.
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Photo Credit: Adapted and remixed from todderick42 via Compfight cc