Review: The Secret Garden Experience, Wizard Presents
5.0Overall Score

The Secret Garden Experience is an eight day audio journey through Frances Hodgson Burnett’s book, The Secret Garden. Ten year old Mary Lennox, orphaned by a Cholera epidemic, moves from her home in India to an isolated mansion on the Yorkshire moors to live with her uncle. Both Mary and her uncle are dreadfully lonely, and are sour and cross as a result, but through the story both grow in response to love and kindness. 

Each day has around twenty minutes of audiobook accompanied by an envelope or small wrapped gift from the box that accompanies the experience. This box evokes a wonder in me akin to Christmases as an child. The activities are varied and exciting, all mimicking Mary’s own activities at Misselthwaite Manor. 

Despite the story being distilled into twenty minute sections, nothing of the essence and charm of Hodgson Burnett’s original story is lost. Mary’s transformation from a sour and spoilt child to a hearty young girl, full of excitement, is vividly brought to life through Danyah Miller’s voice. Her tone is soft and calming and, for those of us who enjoyed the book so much as children, transports us on a nostalgic journey into the early 1900s and a world of moors, flowers and robin redbreasts. A world vastly different from our own, with its hectic pace and constant connection through social media. 

Over the last year we have all been trapped inside far too much. This has been hard, especially for children, who need to explore and grow through being outside in nature and wondering at the leaves in the trees, the sound of birdsong and the growing flowers. 

Parts of the box encourage us, as the audience, to get outside in nature. We reflect on what we see, we create art based on our surroundings and we get outside whether it be wind, rain, snow or shine. Just like Mary, who goes out into the bracing winds of the moors. 

It is challenging to express in words how much joy this experience brings me, even as a twenty-four year old living in inner city London. My only complaint would be my own age: I wish I was a child experiencing this box so that I could experience that wonder which is only available in those first few years of our lives. I can only imagine how brilliant this box would be for families in the holidays, or half term as it is right now, to go back to the simpler things away from the television remote and iPad. Adults can share this magnificent book with their children and encourage them to embrace the world outside of our front door.

The Secret Garden Experience is available to listen to online or via their app, but there are only a limited number of boxes available. For more information and tickets, see The Secret Garden Experience online.