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The Secret Garden (1911) is a novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It is the story of little Mary Lennox, a girl who'd grown up in India spoiled by her servants, whose primary job it was to be seen and not heard. When Mary's parents die, she is sent to live in England with her uncle, a crotchety old widower. At first blush Mary is a spoiled, self-absorbed brat - she grew up unloved and unwanted, and is certainly "quite contrary." When she discovers behind high walls a mysterious and unkempt garden on the manor's property, her imagination and emotions begin to awaken.
Mary's ability to grow and change after losing everything make it even more profound than a fairy tale. The other characters help her along: one is a good and healthy adult-child relationship, another helps her to recognize and develop her sense of empathy for her fellow kind, and a third teaches her about beauty and a love of nature. The power of this work to portray strong characters overcoming adversity, while charming and filling readers with imagination, has made The Secret Garden a cherished book for a 100 years.
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