On gardens with a magical sort of spark

I’ve just finished ‘Tom’s Midnight Garden’, and goodness it was wonderful. I loved every moment of it, and I cried at the end. However, I thought the crying was strange, as I had accidentally found out the twist at the end of the book – the entry about ‘Tom’s Midnight Garden’ in ‘1001 Children’s Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up’ GAVE AWAY THE ENDING! I thought this was almost unforgivable. I will not descend to the book’s level and reveal the ending to you.

This got me thinking about finding out the ends of books before you finish them, and spoilers in general. Does knowing the end of a book affect your ability to enjoy it?

I knew the twist in Daphne Du Maurier’s ‘Rebecca’, but despite this, I really enjoyed reading it. I am also a big re-reader, where, obviously, I already know what happens. Sometimes the familiarity of a story that I already know is exactly what I am looking for; it is like seeing an old friend. But even so, I love discovering new characters, new plots, new twists, new stories. Would I have enjoyed ‘Tom’s Midnight Garden’ if I hadn’t known the ending?

I don’t know that I could have. That garden, that came alive to Tom every night when the clock struck thirteen, was so real to me. Gardens are such a magical place – flowers bloom, trees grow, bees buzz – and I think that, as a child, these everyday things are enhanced by a child’s natural curiosity and wonder at the world around them. Perhaps this is why so many gardens in children’s books are enchanted: time-travel in Edward Eager’s ‘The Time Garden’, fairies hidden in the bushes of Kensington Garden in ‘Peter Pan’, or naughty bunnies in blue jackets stealing Mr MacGregor’s radishes from his garden in Beatrix Potter’s ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’. Even gardens that are not strictly magical have a special sort of spark, like in Frances Hodgson Burnett’ The Secret Garden’.

I have a special not-quite-a-garden where I like to read when the sun is shining on Adelaide – the banks of the River Torrens. While not quite a garden, it has that quiet serenity of a garden that makes it a perfect place for reading (it also has a willow tree, and an occasional swan). Below is a picture I took when I was lounging on the banks last summer.

I have decided to stick to the garden theme, and read ‘The Secret Garden’ next. Maybe the gloomy Adelaide weather has something to do with it!

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4 comments

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