REVIEW: The Secret Garden – Part One (2021)

A Graphic novel by Maud Begon based on Frances Hodgson Burnett’s 1912 classic

It has been quite a while since I’ve read Frances Hodgson Burnett’s 1912 classic The Secret Garden. I know I read it sometime in elementary school, but its has been quite a few decades now. What a stroke of luck, to find Europe Comics had published this story in graphic novel form, adapted and drawn by Maud Begon. I’m always a fan of companies doing stuff like this, as some classic books, no matter how short, are going to be avoided entirely by some people for better or worse. Having a true-to-print comic adaptation available not only gets the story in more people’s hands, but could be the spark that brings reading into somebody’s life. A relatively thorough adaptation, there are only a few sections missing from this version, and truthfully the missing stuff isn’t that important. This is part one in what I can only assume will be two books upon completion.

“When Mary’s parents die, she moves to England, where she is sent to a strange mansion in the middle of the Yorkshire moors, belonging to her uncle. It is here that she discovers the comfort of friendship… and a wonderful secret that she soon shares with her new companions: a garden forgotten by everyone, whose key, as if by magic, also opens the doors to broken hearts. This is a two-part graphic adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s 1912 classic of children’s literature.”

Being a largely unwanted child in a time when children were “best seen not heard”, if even seen at all, Mary has all the benchmarks of becoming a doomed sociopath of some nature when she grows up. Her parents ignored her, and she was abandoned when Cholera wiped out her Indian manor house. She seemingly feels no sadness for this, as her relationship with her family was already poor. It’s not until she meets people that actually care for her, and treat her like a person that he icy heart melts just enough to begin to see the beauty in the world. Being able to nurture “The Secret Garden” back to life after ten years of grief and neglect parallels her rejuvenation as a person. It is a story that summarizes the social changes of early 20th century Europe, and our departure from institutionalized informal child-rearing into something more resembling what we do now. If you have never read this classic, I’d definitely recommend this new comic from Europe Comics. More so than any film I’ve seen based on the original story, this captures the magic and wonder of the original in a way that makes this such a worthy tribute.

If you are interested in more information on this book, click HERE

NOTE: I received a free preliminary, and likely unedited copy of this book from Netgalley for the purposes of providing an honest, unbiased review of the material. Thank you to all involved.

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