2018 – The Year of Rereading

3 childhood books: "The Girl Who Ran Away" (aka "Charley"), "A Wrinkle in Time" trilogy, and "The Secret Garden." Photo by Mary Warner, 2018.
3 childhood books: “The Girl Who Ran Away” (aka “Charley”), “A Wrinkle in Time” trilogy, and “The Secret Garden.” Photo by Mary Warner, 2018.

I’ve decided that 2018 is the year of rereading for me. That means revisiting books that have been favorites of mine throughout my life. I recently reread three childhood favorites: “Charley,” “A Wrinkle in Time” trilogy, and “The Secret Garden.”

I read “Charley” when it was actually called “Charley,” but somewhere along the line, the publisher retitled it “The Girl Who Ran Away.” The local library used to have a copy and I reread this a few years ago, but when I went back to find it again, it was no longer in the catalog. So, I ordered a used copy online. Same great images, but, yech, the title. I much prefer “Charley.” Rereading this book by Joan Robinson, I can see why I enjoyed it. Good writing, the story clips along, and I could put myself in Charley’s place when I was a kid. (What kid doesn’t want to run away at some point?)

The trilogy by Madeline L’Engle, starting with “A Wrinkle in Time” and followed up by “A Wind in the Door” and “A Swiftly Tilting Planet,” was something I had pretty much forgotten about when I originally thought about rereading books from my past. Somehow it popped into my mind and I added to my list. I was only thinking of reading the first book, but I got a gift card to Barnes & Noble from my hubby for Christmas and found this lovely hardcover version with the entire series.

These books were a surprise to me upon my reread. “A Wrinkle in Time” clipped along at a pace that was too fast. I wanted to see more development of the story, but it was one thing to the next (seriously, Calvin is just dropped in out of nowhere) so quickly that it made me breathless. Other than the main characters, the following two books have very little relationship to the first book. “A Wind in the Door” was better developed than the first book and by the time L’Engle got to “A Swiftly Tilting Planet,” she had mastered presenting the complexities of telling a deeper story. I honestly can’t remember having read the third book when I was a kid, so maybe I stopped at the first two.

I have always loved the story of “The Secret Garden,” partially because, hey, there’s a secret walled garden, partially because the main character is Mary Lennox and she gets taunted with the “Mistress Mary, quite contrary” children’s rhyme and I heard that plenty when I was a kid. A movie was made of the story, which was released in 1993, and the production was so good that in my mind it followed the book closely. Did you know the movie’s executive producer was Francis Ford Coppola? I didn’t until I rewatched the movie on Netflix recently. I was holding the movie version in my head as I reread the book and, oh, are there differences! For one, Mary’s parents are not killed in an earthquake in India in the book, as they are in the movie. Instead, they are taken by a cholera epidemic. Another big difference is Mrs. Medlock, played as a harsh, almost cruel character by Maggie Smith in the movie. She’s not like this at all in the book. Other characters, like Martha, Dickon, and Ben Weatherstaff, are much more developed in the book than in the movie.

It’s very interesting to reread books and see how my memory jibes with what’s actually in the books.

Have you reread any favorite books recently? What was your experience? Did the reread present any surprises?