Saturday, April 9, 2011

Readathon Mini Challenge: Favorite Classic

And here's our next challenge, coming by way of Allie over at A Literary Odyssey: Name your favorite classic book... and a justification.

Although it's tempting to be all "OMG PRIDE AND PREJUDICE," I think I'm going to have to go with "The Secret Garden," by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I've loved it since I was old enough to read. At this point, my battered stained copy is like a personal friend.

Plot-wise, the book has pretty much everything. Brat of a girl slowly becoming a decent human being? Yes. Pseudo-magic boy who can almost talk to animals? Check. Gorgeous descriptions of the English moor coming alive in spring? Definitely. And of course, mysteries in a potentially haunted mansion, down-to-earth servant girls who don't know how to be "proper," scary uncle/father figures who loom about in the background whilst slowly gaining your sympathy, and endless descriptions of crocuses coming to life.

I can't even pick out which character I like best. Mary is, as mentioned, a brat of the highest order. Burnett happily writes along, describing her as all yellow and pinched and nasty-looking, so it's a relief when Mary finally starts to improve. You have to love a book where minor characters say things like, "God, I know we're supposed to feel bad for her because her parents are dead, but did you ever SEE such a repulsive little creature?" Oh yes.

Mary's cousin Colin is even worse--my favorite scene in the book is when Mary storms into Colin's room while he's shrieking like a banshee about his impending death, and smacks him full in the face while shrieking back about how he's the most horrible boy on earth and why doesn't he just DIE already!? (Actually, this is making me a little worried about my personal psyche, that at age eight this was my favorite book....)

And of course there's Dickon, the kindhearted country boy who has tame fox kits as pets and who can call birds straight down from the trees. He can SUMMON ANIMALS. Guys, this is awesome. He sees beauty in everything, even nasty little pinched Mary, and more importantly sees their potential to become something wonderful. Loved him. The nineties-era movie did not do him justice.

And... now I'm rambling, and have the insane desire to throw aside the not-nearly-as-good book I'm currently reading, and go back for a nice reread of Secret Garden. Because it's fantastic. ;)


  1. I had SUCH a hard time picking a single book for that challenge! I've never actually read The Secret Garden (call me crazy!), but of all the classics I have read I decided to pick Alice in Wonderland. Because I love all that poetry. But seriously, I could have named so many others, like The Cricket on the Hearth which I firmly believe is Dicken's best short story ever... or Jane Eyre, or The Pilgrim's Progress, or... Well, you get the picture.

    Hope you're having a FANTASTIC read-a-thon! :)

  2. I *love* Alice in Wonderland -- it always makes me wonder how Lewis Carroll could have been so trippy. I mean, doesn't that book seem to be ahead of its time, weird-wise?



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