Tom's brother has the measles and to try to prevent Tom from getting them as well, he's hustled off to his childless aunt and uncle's home, a flat in a large house that's been divided. Tom is disappointed because he was looking forward to spending the school holidays playing in the garden with his brother. But, when the grandfather clock downstairs strikes 13, Tom is curious and he can't sleep, anyway, so he goes to peer out the back door, where he's been told there's a small parking area and a garbage bin but little else.
When Tom opens the door, instead he finds a large walled garden with plenty of room to explore and trees to climb. He finds that he's invisible to most of the people in the garden but there's a little girl who can see and speak to him. She thinks he's a ghost but that doesn't faze her; they become playmates. Each night, Tom sneaks out the door to the garden and plays in another time. Where and when does this garden exist? Is Tom's playmate the ghost of someone who used to live in the house?
Highly recommended - I can see why this book is a classic. It's beautifully written, mysterious, and absolutely sweeps you away to a magical time when nature was an endless playground. I loved every minute and was happy that the book ended exactly as I hoped it would.
I also found it quite interesting how a child's dangerous illness was handled in an earlier time (guessing his aunt and uncle had already had the illness?). Tom's Midnight Garden was published in 1958, undoubtedly pre-vaccine. His brother is ill for weeks, which fits my own experience as my vaccination didn't "take" and I was one of the rare children of my era who had the measles after being vaccinated.
Another book I'll hang onto for a potential reread and hopefully one that I can share with my grandchildren, someday.
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