This is both the problem and the bonus about creating something that people view more or les in real time: things change. Ah, change. Necessary, wonderful, and terrifying, all at once.
So, I went on at great and fervid length about how much I loved The Secret Garden. How delightful! I crowed. I got quite carried away. But the thing is, Chestnut and I had not yet finished the thing. And now we have.
Here's where one is confronted by the vast distance between memory and reality. I remembered, or thought I did, a lot about the book, but when I was confronted with what the book actually was? Nothing like I remembered. Sure, there were moments I remembered entirely, down to the words used. But I remember it, too, as Mary's book—Mary's metamorphosis, Mary's garden, Mary's new self filled with light and strength. Imagine my surprise, then, when she all but disappears from center stage about two thirds of the way through the book. All of sudden it's all about Colin's health, and Colin's strength. And where Mary had to learn to be kinder and gentler, Colin's rajah behavior is almost celebrated. And all of a sudden you realize that where you'd been rooting for strange sour little Mary to get her place in the sun, it somehow meant that you were also rooting for what essentially is England's place as a colonial power (I know, I know, I'm getting carried away again just in the opposite direction).
It's just that when we got to the very last chapter, and to the very last page, and all of sudden it's all about Master Craven, and the joyful ending is this:
Across the lawn came the Master of Misselthwaite, and he looked as many of them had never seen him. And by his side, with his head up in the air and his eyes full of laughter, walked as strongly and steadily as any boy in Yorkshire—Master Colin!
I had to just shut my mouth and let Chestnut enjoy it, but I thought—are you kidding? We've gone through all this to end with Master Colin? What a rip! I couldn't believe it. It's as if somehow in the middle of the novel someone just swapped out our strange little heroine for someone else. And I know I will get over it, and it is still and excellent children's novel to read aloud, and the beginning is amazing, and so on and so on, but boy, what a rip-off.