Review – Return To The Secret Garden by Holly Webb
I jumped at the chance to be part of this review only blog tour when the lovely Faye Rogers asked! The Secret Garden was always a childhood favourite of mine so a chance to Return To The Secret Garden…..yes please! I couldn’t wait!
A huge thank you to Faye Rogers, Scholastic and Holly Webb for having me on this wonderful tour and for sending me the book to read.
Check out my previous Q&A with Holly Webb here
Publisher – Scholastic UK
Published – 1st October 2015
Pages – 227 pages
Format – Hardback and E-book
Category – Historical MG
Source – I was sent a copy of this book by the wonderful publishers Scholastic and Faye Rogers as part of the blog tour. This does not affect my review or my opinions in any way and am delighted to write an honest review. Thank you Scholastic for sending this to me to read and to Faye for organising!
** Please note Tales Of Yesterday Reviews are written as spoiler free as possible**
I was swept away by this books characters, story and charm. I loved every minute of reading it and it left me with warm butterflies fluttering about my tummy for hours afterwards.
Return To The Secret Garden is about a girl called Emmie and is set in 1939. Because of the war Emmie is evacuated from her orphanage in London before the planes fly over and drop their gas on the city, along with the other children who live in the orphanage, to the countryside to Misselthwaite Hall where the owner of the orphanage lives. Upset and bitter about leaving London and her beloved cat behind Emmie find solace in a secret garden, that she finds whilst exploring, and a diary from 1910. What pursues is a touching story about friendship, family and a beautiful garden all intertwining with touching references to the Secret Garden and it’s original characters.
The story of Return To The Secret Garden is told from Emmie’s point of view. She is far from happy about leaving her beloved orphanage where she has befriended a stray cat called Lucy. She is a brave, feisty character and she seems to get into trouble for the littlest things too! She is the main character and my favourite. I loved watching her grow and be happy throughout the book and the touching relationships she develops throughout.
There are some references to The Secret Garden and Mary the main character from that book in the form of a diary that Emmie finds in a draw. This gives the reader a chance to read some extracts from the diary about Mary and her discovery of a secret garden and a little insight into the old classic, but in a different format. I found this perfect as for me it was a little reminder of the characters from the classic and the story that was told. A gentle nudge, but for readers who have not read The Secret Garden it is a perfect progression and flow of the story that is unfolding by each flick of the page.
I also loved the homely feel of the Hall and it’s characters too. Mrs Craven is like a mother to all the children that are staying with her and I adored Lieutenant Craven when he returned home from the war. Mr Sowerby the gardener is a mysterious character and Jack, Mrs Cravens son, whilst not wanting Emmie or the children in his home, is a memorable character who mirrors Colin from The Secret Garden.
The descriptions of the gardens and the Hall were just stunning I could picture them beautifully. I felt like I was exploring the garden and hall and discovering secrets along the way with Emmie. I think this made me really relate to Emmie in a way as I felt her joy, her heartbreak and the beauty she discovers through her eyes.
The historical fiction side of the book actually made me tear up at times. Very much focused on how children and families were effected by the war. There is one scene right at the beginning of the book where Emmie and the orphanage children are on their way to the train station being evacuated and they walk past a school where the witness children saying goodbye and leaving their parents. It made me have a lot of feelings.
Another touching scene for me again right at the beginning was when Emmie boards the train she sees another girl through the window on the train on the opposite platform going the opposite direction and as they both pull out of the station they look at each other and wave *cries*. This is a credit to Holly’s historical fiction and research in the effect the war had on children.
And that ending! *cries all the tears*
Holly Webb fantastically gives the reader a wonderful sequel in the fact that she does tell you what has become of the characters from the classic The Secret Garden. No spoilers though! If you loved the old classic this is the perfect book to find out what happened to your favourites. It really is a lovely touch. Ps Holly, I forgive you 😉
All in all I really loved Return To The Secret Garden. Whilst I read The Secret Garden many many years ago now I do think you could read this as a standalone book and as well as being a brilliant sequel to the classic it actually is also a good introduction for people who haven’t read The Secret Garden to go and hunt it out.
One final shout out to the beautiful cover of the book. Its simply gorgeous and whilst holding it in your hands reading about Emmie’s story it really feels like you are holding something special and magical just like discovering your own secret garden.
I award this book 4 out of 5 Tales Of Yesterday Books!
About Holly Webb
Find out more information about Holly on her website here
You can buy Return To The Secret Garden here
Or why not add it to your Goodreads wish list here
You can also check out my Q&A with Holly Webb here which features questions about Return To The Secret Garden
You can catch up or follow the rest of the blog tour on the following stops below!
I would like to say another huge thank you to Faye and Scholastic for having me on the tour and for sending me a copy of the book to read and review!
Have you read The Secret Garden? Was is a childhood favourite? Are you excited about Return To The Secret Garden? I would love to hear from you! Why not leave a comment using the reply button at the top of the page or tweet me on twitter using @chelleytoy !
Happy Reading and discovering secrets!