Chestnut and I had a small
set-to the other night, wherein she wanted me to read You Be the Jury and
I wanted to read The Secret Garden. I've got nothing against We the
Jury, it just wasn't as interesting to me. But then again, it was Chestnut's bedtime, not mine. We went back and forth and compromised on one story from Jury,
a few pages from Garden.
I figured this was the end of our Secret Garden reading, because now that I had
outed myself as totally partisan she would drop it like a hot potato,
but lo and behold, two nights ago she asked me to read some more of it.
Then last night, another chapter. And WOW.
That book is just so amazing. I'd forgotten, somehow, though the scenes
themselves stayed firmly in my mind. Mary waking up to meet Martha, who
asks her "Cana tha' dress tha'sel?" The broad lonely moor, the rain
lashing the windows. And Mary is so
pinched and disagreeable, which makes her all the more sympathetic,
even with all her racism, nastiness, imperiousness. The book makes you
so willing to take a chance on her, and on it, and the feeling of that
just echoes everywhere—the frightening moor, unpleasant Colin, sharp
unpleasant Mary. Once you take time with them they flower (just like
the garden itself), which makes it such a hopeful and reassuring thing to
read. No matter how small and unhappy we are, there is the possibility
of us opening beyond ourselves. It was Diana who gave me this insight
into it. Not that she was it was hopeful. Instead she said that each
one of them is a secret, just like the garden, and that's what she
liked about the book.
And reading it again now, oh my, how I love it. It's one of those books in which you read three words and then whoosh, the words disappear and you're there inside the story, until something happens to knock you out of it. Such a pleasure to read at all, and such a pleasure to read with her. It's one of those things I hope I can keep in mind, when I'm thinking about how my life is. It makes it all seem good.