Saturday, September 4, 2021

Unearthing The Secret Garden: The Plants and Places That Inspired Frances Hodgson Burnett


Unearthing The Secret Garden is a gently written hybrid biography and period historical garden inspiration written and presented by Marta McDowell. Due out 12th Oct 2021, from Workman Publishing on their Timber Press imprint, it's 320 pages and will be available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats. 

I read The Secret Garden in my childhood and like so many others, it helped to inculcate in me a love of planting seeds, caring for my small garden patch (in my grandparent's garden) and later plants wherever I found myself. This book is a nice homage to both Burnett's life and her own (real life) gardens as well as the other horticultural writing she produced, and some garden inspiration for translation into readers' own green spaces.

The biography follows Burnett's childhood, life in England, subsequent emigration to America, and adulthood - in the words of author McDowell a riches to rags to riches story. 

The book is beautifully illustrated throughout with photographs and facsimile reproductions of illustrations from early editions of The Secret Garden. The photos and facsimiles are captioned and provide insight into Burnett's life, family, and social circles. There are also numerous excerpts from personal correspondence and news and other print media appearances, being one of the most highly paid authors of her time. 

Five stars. I found the book engaging, well written, beautifully illustrated and full of both biographical narrative and gardening inspiration.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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