When Tom is sent to stay at his aunt and uncle’s house for the summer, he resigns himself to weeks of boredom. But as he lies awake in his bed he listens to the grandfather clock chiming in the hall downstairs.
Thirteen! Tom races down the stairs and finds, outside the back door, a wonderful garden. A garden everyone told him didn’t exist. Tom’s midnight garden is full of magic and adventure, and children too. Are they ghosts? Or is it Tom who is really the ghost…
Tom’s Midnight Garden, by Philippa Pearce (1920 – 2006), was first published in 1958, won the Carnegie Medal and is still credited as “one of the best-loved children’s books ever written.” I first read it just a few years ago and was captivated by the mystery and delightful fantasy. It’s on the rereading agenda for this week, partly for the Book Bingo Challenge and partly as an enjoyable contrast to the heavy rereading of exam preparation.
My garden is not at all like the one that Tom discovers, with “a great lawn…towering fir-tree..and a path that twisted away to some other depths of garden,” but I live in hope that one day it too will be worth seeing in the moonlight. I don’t expect it will have much in the way of magic and adventure, but I hope that it will be wonderful in its own uniquely Australian way.
From time to time we can hear criticism from some quarters about adults reading and enjoying books written for children and young adults, however I am of the opinion that a good book is a good book regardless of the age for which it was originally written. I continue to read, reread, discover and enjoy many great books written for children and YA, but I will let C. S. Lewis have the last word.
No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally and often far more worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond.