Misselthwaite by Susan Moody is the unofficial sequel to the classic children's novel The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. While the latter is a kid friendly, magical story of three young children who discover a secret garden, decide to revamp it, and grow along with the roses, the former is a heartbreaking story about the same three children as they age from young adulthood to middle age and beyond.
Pinch-faced, disagreeable Mary has become a beautiful young woman with quaint manners and hoards of admirers, including her own cousin Colin, and her best friend, Dickon. She gets caught up in the world of wealth and scandal all the while wanting nothing more than to love the man of her dreams who knows nothing of either.
Colin is an educated but rowdy young man who is gearing up to inherit Misselthwaite and all of his (now very loving and attentive) father's assets. Late in the novel it is revealed that Colin questions his sexuality, or rather hides it, even though he becomes Mary's second husband.
Animal charmer Dickon returns from the First World War, to the surprise of everyone around him who thought him to be dead, changed and darker, with night terrors and a blank look in his eyes. He loves Mary, and although his love is not exactly unrequited, his poor social status prevents her from wanting anything permanent with him, although as she grows older and wiser she learns to regret this decision.
The story is quite well written but unbelievably sad. The last one-hundred pages are written like a Shakespearean tragedy.
Ultimately, if you loved the Secret Garden as a child you will love this book as an adult. By the end you will feel like all the ends are tied and there are no questions left to be answered about Mary, Colin, and Dickon.