Saturday, 7 February 2009

Secret Gardens, Literary Doors**AND A PRIZE GIVEAWAY!**

What is behind the door? Where might it lead? Who might lurk behind it? Another world? Another time? A faun with an umbrella? A robin? A garden full of wonders? Doors have a wonderful literary heritage in children's books. My grandmother bequeathed me her very own childhood copy of Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden, complete with onionskin covered, handcoloured plates, and slightly foxed sepia endpapers with elegant, curving swirls drawn upon them. A valuable second edition? I didn't care about that, only for the words inside, which blossomed into pictures inside my head. As an only child, with much older parents, I could relate to the lonely Mary Lennox, and her grumpy moods, and her 'might I have a bit of earth?'. The scene where that bit of ivy swings back, and the robin shows her the door to the garden is, for me, one of the great moments of heart thrilling literary suspense. And what I love almost as much is that what is behind the door is not a disappointment, but a wonderful adventure composed not of another world (though it might almost be so), but of brown earth and the magic of growing things. I too, after I had read about Mary Lennox, asked for my bit of earth, in which I grew lettuces and chinese lanterns and nasturtiums. Since then, I have branched out a bit in the gardening line, but that is a tale for another day.

The wardrobe door leading to Narnia is possibly the most famous door of all--and which of us can say that they have not looked longingly at the back of a cupboard (though probably not one hung with furs) and wished for it to dissolve into nothingness with snow and a lamp post beyond? My own novel, Hootcat Hill, features its own magical door--the Door to Avvallon, through which the heroine, Linnet, has to go before she can find herself and save her world. A shut door is an adventure in itself. What lies beyond the door at the top of this page? Only I can tell you--but I choose to leave it to your imagination. I'd love to know what flights of fancy you come up with, and I will send a signed copy of the new paperback of Hootcat Hill, which comes out next month, to the person who comes up with the most original answer, in 50 words or less in the comments box. I look forward to your entries. Closing date 15th March 2009.


Saviour with an S said...

And, of course, Lucy, the idea of what lies behind the door' comes full circle in Harold Pinter's plays, where opening one lets in life-destroying catastrophes!

AnneR said...

Cunning way of getting comments! OK, my immediate reaction was that this *is* through the door.
We are in the (snowy) garden and the other side of the door is the Beast's castle. [It's the bit in Beauty and the Beast when she finds the garden (in the silent movie, can't remember the director - oh dear) - this isn't part of my 50!]. So outside (our side) is where Belle and the beast are in the garden and the other side is the castle where what happened this side transforms their lives. (46) That was really badly expressed. But hey, it's saturday, R3 radio and gin, what do you expect? :-)

I used to have a walk in wardrobe in the eaves and once you pushed through the coats you were in the area inhabited by bats. No snow, but quite surreal!

shepherdlass said...

[Oh, this is fun! Reminded me of a grand old house near here that kept changing hands - due to some reputed curse. Not part of my 50, which start from here ....]

The door groaned as Annie strained the hinges. It opened onto a tangle of weeds. "Imagine leaving the garden in this state for a house viewing," she muttered, struggling through foliage. And felt a bony, clammy hand on her shoulder. "Beware," a creaking voice, "This is estate agent purgatory."

Ms. Yingling said...

Oh, fine. It's not like I had work to do. It's horrible, I know, but I was biking through the rain after freezing temps yesterday and contemplating how the air smelled so I didn't just lie down in the street and give up. For what it's worth:

Back of the door,
Frost-crusted blooms stoically sleep.

Wood smoke and ice,
Scenting the breeze, whisper of spring.

Tacit and gray
Walls enclose hope. Daffodils wait.

Lucy Coats said...

Lovely so far! Thank you all. Imaginations obviously running riot....

Fran Hill said...

The door opened. Behind it, she found the Land of Ideas. There were trees on which were hung Fruits of Inspiration and Leaves of Original Vocabulary. There were bushes, laden with purple and red How-to-Begins. There were vines, drooping from the skies, from which she could pick bunches of Metaphors and Similes. She sucked and chewed until Ideas dribbled from her chin, sticky and sweet. She would never, ever go back.

Velvet Blade said...

[NOTE: Mood setting only, for my 50 look below** Imagine how difficult that door is to open. Notice the snow piled up, just so. It hasn't been cleared yet... You really have to put your shoulder into it, with all your mighty body weight behind it. Then it gives way and you peek around the door to - The Other Side.]

A vast labyrinth hewn from ice. You slide through some parts & [an ampersam isn't really a word that should be counted, is it? I mean it's really a symbol not a word...] skate through others. In the middle awaits a hot cup of coco. Not just any coco, but magic coco. You drink and all your wishes come true. You soon learn... Be careful what you wish for. Interpretation is very subjective!

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