Study Guide

In The Woods The Secret Garden

By Tana French

The Secret Garden

It's a Secret to Everyone

As Rob tries to remember details of what happened in 1984, he remembers something that couldn't possibly be true, a secret garden in the woods, peaceful and quiet. Not just quiet, but possessing an "infinite silence" (10.5). No one else has seen this garden, so it can't exist, right? Rob says, "If this garden had existed it would have been found […] but this was the problem: I remembered it, all the same" (10.59). What makes something true? Its existence? Or just the memory of it? If a child finds a secret garden, but his other two friends are murdered, did the secret garden exist at all?

Strangely, Rosalind later uses the phrase "our secret garden" (17.69) when she finds a place to confide in Rob. However, like everything Rosalind does, this garden, too, is full of lies. Everything Rosalind "confesses" to Rob is a falsehood, just like the garden itself. The garden, then, represents the lies Rob tells himself—and lying in general. In a book haunted by death, nothing pretty blooms.