Mary’s parents fall ill and die, forcing her to be transplanted from India to the English countryside. She arrives at a strange and foreign country manor, where she discovers a long-neglected garden and hears strange sobbing noises at night.
Thus begins The Secret Garden, a children’s book with an unusually dense collection of themes, symbols, and motifs. Mary’s personal development mirrors her unraveling the secret of the hidden garden, and a subtle backdrop of magical realism adds a mysterious air to the proceedings.
Contemporary reception left The Secret Garden largely unnoticed, eclipsed by Hodgson’s other work, Little Lord Fauntleroy. Since then, however, the book’s reputation has steadily grown, with modern critics considering it one of the finest children’s books of the 20th century.