Return to the Secret Gardenby Holly Webb

Expected publication: November 1st 2016 by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

4 Stars

Synopsis: Return to the magic of Burnett’s classic tale with a brand-new character as she discovers a very secret garden.

It’s 1939, and the occupants of the Craven Home for Orphaned Children have been evacuated to Misselthwaite Hall, a fancy manor in the English countryside, to escape the Blitz. Emmie would hardly call the orphanage “home,” but her heart breaks knowing that leaving Craven means leaving her beloved cat, Lucy. Away from everything she’s ever known and trapped in imposing Misselthwaite, Emmie finds herself more miserable than ever.

But soon she starts discovering the secrets of the house-a boy who cries in the night, a diary written by a girl named Mary, and a garden. A very secret garden…

My Review: It has been a long time since I read “The Secret Garden” but as I read this, a lot of it came back to me. This is a sequel but it is written in a different style and much more child friendly. Holly Webb has this story take place in 1939 when a group of orphans have been evacuated from London and are now living in Misselthwaite Hall. The theme of being abandoned and forced to move somewhere new and foreign is the same feeling that Emmie has in this book as Mary did in the original.

Emmie, the main character is an orphan, or at least has no parents that claim her. She is stubborn, can be mean spirited and speaks her mind. Her only friend is her stray cat that she is forced to leave behind when they evacuate. When she finds Mary’s diaries in her room, she reads them and falls in love with the Magical Secret Garden. She finds the door to the garden and it is no longer locked. She spends many hours there and begins to find solace and happiness with the flowers and the robin that lives in the hedge. When the old gardener befriends her, she tells him about her cat. Mr. Craven, who is in the navy, hears about the cat, finds it and brings it to Emmie when he is home on a visit. Emmie also befriends Jack, the Craven’s son and they work magic on one another. The garden becomes their “Garden of Secrets.”

Emmie’s character is well developed throughout the story. It is wonderful to see her go from being lonely, frustrated and angry to healing others around her and finally becoming part of something very special. It was wonderful to see the characters from the original novel in this story, all grwon up. I think the themes of loneliness, love of nature, secrets and friendship are shown and developed in this book. Now to get out the movie and watch it again with my grandchildren. A nice sequel that children will enjoy and even their parents. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book via Netgalley.

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