The Secret Garden Frances Hodgson Burnett Audiobook Review

I am one of those people who read a lot of books during childhood and saw a lot of movies but then don’t remember if a book was something I actually read or not. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett is one of those books and when I decided to add it to my Fill In The Gaps Project list, I could not remember which version of the story I consumed.

The Secret Garden Frances Hodgson Burnett Audiobook Cover

The Secret Garden

Having definitely seen the movie (we had the VHS where there’s a fire and some elephants and that’s how Mary’s parents die) and having read a few modern versions of The Secret Garden, I pretty much knew what the plot was going into the audiobook.

If you happen to live under a rock here is a bare bones summary – Mary is the main character who spends her early childhood in India where her mom ignores her and her servants spoil her. Mary’s parents die then she goes to live in Yorkshire, England with her mysterious Uncle. She hears weir noises and discovers a bedridden cousin and a secret garden. Oh! And she also becomes BFF with an animal charmer who charms his way into my heart as well, Dickon.

Y’all, this whole book, The Secret Garden, to me is about growth and change. It’s about the quiet sort of magic that happens when you let your barriers down and trust others. Mary goes from being a petulant child to one who finds satisfaction working with the earth and pleasure in the company of others. I love that. I love the gentleness the story takes on towards her, if that makes sense, the sort of softening she has towards other people. Colin, too changes with Mary, from being bedridden acting out in fits of rage to desperately wanting to live and walk and make friends with others.

Friends, I am filled with the joy of listening to and reading a very special book. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure which form of story I encountered first in my life, but I am very glad it still captures readers today and I am also glad that it is just as good if not better than I remembered.

As for the audio, I listened to the Tantor audio version narrated by Josephine Bailey who is a competent narrator. She has the perfect English accent and does the voice of petulant Mary very, very well. However, I got exactly what I paid for — the audio was part of a 99 cent sale on Audible and the production quality was not great. There were awkward pauses and a few bits that sounded static-y. I think this audiobook version of The Secret Garden could do with a remastering.

Disclosure: Purchased copy.

Other reviews of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett:

That’s What She Read – “a wonderful reminder of the healing power of nature, laughter, and love

A Room Of One’s Own – “This novel is about secrets — locked doors and locked hearts.

About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. “It’s about the quiet sort of magic that happens when you let your barriers down and trust others.” – love this comment! Like you I wonder if I read this or just saw the movie and I think listening to this on audio would make it an even better experience.

  2. I remember that movie too! Last year, I listened to an audio version of the book as well and just loved it. Such a good story. Absolutely adored Dickon!

  3. I love this book, and the movie. If you haven’t seen the movie in a while, it’s totally worth watching it again; it’s wonderful. There’s also a musical if you like musicals, and the music is fantastic.

  4. I think the movie version you describe is the same one I grew up on. It’s now a Hallmark movie. You should watch it again if you haven’t in awhile. A twenty-year-old Collin Firth makes a random cameo at the end as grown-up Dicken! It’s so funny to see! Anyway, this is such a timeless story and I enjoyed your review! Happy Friday! 😀

  5. I loved this one as a child. I haven’t read it in years though.

  6. I love The Secret Garden. It has always been one of my favorite books, ever since the first time I read it. You definitely expressed almost exactly how I feel about it – and that’s awesome!

  7. I remember this one too! I read one version when I was really young and every time the movie would come on TV (which ever version), I would always watch it! It’s such a timeless classic!

    ~Kailia @ Reading the Best

  8. Oh, I’m so happy you enjoyed this book. I always thought it was full of awesome. I love mary and I understand what you mean about how the narration is very gentle toward Mary. She’s shown with all her flaws but the none of the text is not cruel or mocking, and you sort of realize Mary got dealt a crappy hand for the start even if her family was rich and her mom very pretty and all that.

    I loved her transformation and Dickon (I LOVE DICKON) I haven’t read this book for a while but now you made me want to pick up my old book 😀

  9. I read this book when I was really young, so I don’t think I ever understood the message. I did however appreciate the wonderful language and the idea of having a secret garden. It’s probably time for me to re-read this one! :] Thanks for the review.

  10. This is one of my favorite childhood classics! I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed the story, even if the audio wasn’t the best production. You’ve made me consider that I really ought to read this one again myself. I did just rewatch the movie earlier this year, the one with Maggie Smith is my favorite, I love it so much!

  11. I don’t think I’ve read the book or watched the movie… I always kind of saw it as a version of The Little Princess, but less good… for some reason… my mind is a weird place.

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