The lovely and talented melrose plant contributes this wonderful review. High fives all around!
A classic novel, a beautiful and mystical world; a girl who lives far away from her parents and chums around with two very different boys, who likes to get into mischief, go where she is restricted and dapple in mystical arts...sound familiar? Hermione Granger of Hogwarts will have certainly enjoyed poking her nose into The Secret Garden and will certainly have found a mirror to hold up to herself in the equally engaging Mary Lennox.
“Mistress Mary quite contrary; How does your garden grow?” taunts Mary’s spiteful cousins at the beginning of The Secret Garden. Hermione who, let’s face it, has a sometimes a prickly manner herself, could also be teased with the same age-old rhyme by spiteful Draco Malfoy and his contingent of thugs who have no time for Hermione’s brainy persistence.
When Mary moves to the gothic, crumbling Misselthwaite Manor, she befriends a poor, out-going boy named Dickon who has a large family living nearby in a ramshackle cottage. When Hermione moves to gothic, crumbling Hogwarts, she befriends a poor, out-going boy named Ron who has a large family living in a ramshackle burrow. Further, deep in Mary’s mansion is a special boy who has lost his mother. Hermione’s friendship with the motherless “Chosen One,” Harry Potter, is as interesting and complicated as Mary’s with her cousin Colin.
The similarities continue: Hermione’s love of sneaking into the Restricted Section of the library is not unlike Mary’s joy in sneaking into an ancient, locked-up garden. A capable horticulturist (she has done quite well with mandrakes, has she not?), Hermione would find herself at home with Mary whose “bit of earth” provides her with countless hours of exploration and delight.
Think magic is lost in this Edwardian period story? Mary teaches her friends Colin and Dickon all about magic she has learned in India: magic that calls to her uncle Archibald and eventually secures a happy ending for herself and her friends. She really is, as Lupin says of Hermione, “the cleverest witch of her age.”
Hermione and Mary have a lot in common. They are both intelligent, sometimes hard-to-please, resourceful and curious. They are not afraid of going after what they want. What is more, they are exceedingly loyal to their family and to their friends. Time will tell what the last pages of Hermione’s story will reveal but of one thing I am certain: she will remain, as Mary, as a smart and curious role model for female readers everywhere.
Are you curious about Mary's secret garden? If so, there's a chapter excerpt here.