For Tom – angry and alone – the stroke of thirteen brings an escape to another time.
A magical, secret time and place, where friendships await and nothing is as it seems…
Look at this particularly fantastic cover it just screams out ‘read me’, so I’m not sure why it took me so long to do just that. It wasn’t until I’d read the ending that I realised I had actually watched the wonderful BBC version in the 80’s, back when kids TV was made to be sinister and engrossing. I may have to do a post on that….
I have long been a firm believer that silence challenges the reader’s imagination and as ever I chose that medium in which to immerse myself in this wonderful book, a masterpiece the cover says and in its genre it most certainly is that.
The book involves our titular hero Tom and revolves around a midnight garden (also titular), I know you had all ascertained that (as my readers are the most intelligent readers out there) but I am loath to say too much more other than that this is a beautiful book with elements of history, a coming of age story and even a bit of love.
Exploration, adventure and imagination are the key things for a book enjoyed by the young, if that can be combined with a sense of freedom, timelessness and an element of mystery, then you have something like this book which is very well written and slowly draws you in. The pacing is constant and gradual, never rushed and allows enough time to see the beautiful characteristics of nature and feel the anguish and wonder of our hero in his struggles…okay as a cynical adult probably a little less than a child would but I am working on my emotional side…
The garden of the title is almost ethereal, that it is easily imagined boundary wise but has the feeling of an infinitely explorable place where eternity could be spent always with new adventures to be sought and found. Perhaps a lot of children these days find the idea of exploring nature somewhat alien but enticing in its feeling of independence. Flights of fancy and nature are the perfect partners for a fertile mind seeking inspiration.
The characters are all rounded enough although it is the feeling of the book, its rich atmosphere which is by far and away the real winner here. Although special mention must be made of my favourite character Uncle Alan and his annoyance at such randomly philosophical questions which Tom pours at him and his inability to think outside the rules that life drills into us…it’s an important point that perhaps we could all dwell on sometime.
Overall TMG has that feel of a classic bit of children’s literature with the aspects that make an enchanting read, it rightfully takes its place in the pantheon of timeless books that cross age boundaries and generally help the adult population see that a lot of what we do is a waste of good time that could be used sinking into this book and regressing to the days when life was arguably richer and more mysterious.