Bookish Beats: The Secret Garden OST

Bookish BeatsMusic, much like literature, has the power to drive your imagination; it can lift the soul and create real emotion.This is Bookish Beats, a feature which will showcase some of the soundtracks which have enriched the worlds I’ve found between the pages. 


The Secret Garden (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Composed by Zbigniew Preisner

Listen to with:

A haunting and atmospheric tale

Such as:

The Somnambulist by Essie Fox

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett was one of my favourite books as a child. Burnett could create a world of magic, a world from secret and simple wonders which I would dream I was a part of. The film was no exception; I would watch it over and over again, and become lost in the gardens and halls of Misselthwaite Manor.

This soundtrack suffuses haunting melodies with tension and magic, interspersing them with  joyous crescendos.  As soon as I started reading The Somnambulist, I knew which soundtrack to go to. In fact, there are a lot of similarities between Misselthwaite Manor and Dinwood Court, and this soundtrack accompanied Essie Fox’s writing like it was made for it. During the opening track, Main Title, you could envisage Phoebe Turner and the exotic and dazzling world of the music halls, and Leaving the Docks was a perfect complement to her conflicted journey to Dinwood Court.

This is a soundtrack with a good range of music; exotic tracks lead into magical and haunting piano pieces, which lead into light and airy choir numbers. The main theme, which I can’t help but love, runs through many tracks including Leaving the Docks, First Time Outside and Shows Dickon Garden. If you are looking for a soundtrack to accompany a haunting and atmospheric tale, or indeed a Victorian Gothic novel, then I wouldn’t look any further – The Secret Garden could just be perfect.

Favourite track

04 – First Time Outside

Top track for action

01 – Main Title

Top track for tension

03 – Mary Downstairs

Top track for emotion

02 – Leaving the Docks


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Review: The Somnambulist by Essie Fox

The Somnambulist

by Essie Fox

Historical Fiction | 405 Pages | Published by Orion in 2012

| Rating |

I first discovered the work of Essie Fox through her blog, The Virtual Victorian. I had been writing my dissertation and had been musing on Penhaligon’s Hammam Bouquet, a Victorian fragrance inspired by Turkish Baths, when a random search took me into Fox’s world of Victoriana. After reading through countless posts I discovered that Essie Fox had also become a published author of fiction. I knew that if I saw The Somnambulist I would buy it; Fox’s blog was so aligned with my own interests that I was certain her novel would win me over. And I did just that. Then the deadlines came thick and fast, reading time was down to a minimum, and here I am several years later having only just read it!

The Somnambulist is a haunting tale of life, love and loss in Victorian England. Phoebe Turner lives under the rule of her strict, fanatical mother in the East End of London and takes every opportunity to escape into the world of the music halls where, dazzled by the lights and sounds, she watches her aunt Cissy perform. But when a dark and mysterious stranger turns up at Wilton’s Music Hall, Phoebe’s universe is turned upside down. Through heartbreak and pain, Phoebe is whisked off for a new life at Dinwood Court – a life of comparative luxury. But appearances can be deceiving. Dark secrets and lies hide beneath the surface and threaten to become exposed at every turn. Haunted by past mistakes, broken promises and cries in the night, Phoebe must unravel the past and find the truth at the heart of Dinwood. Nothing will ever be the same again.


The Somnambulist is a beautiful tale, which Essie Fox has written in an incredibly poignant and honest way. It thrives on its power to convey the reality and complexity of life; the tough choices we all must make, the truths we must conceal, and the hardships we must endure. Written entirely from Phoebe’s perspective, the descriptive style of narrative makes her every thought and action, her entire world, come alive. From the rough and grimy streets of London to the imposing and atmospheric beauty of Dinwood Court, Victorian England becomes vivid and real.

This novel sets the stage for a whole cast of characters. No one is wholly good, nor are they wholly bad, they’re just very real. They lie, they cheat, they make mistakes; they care, they love, and they forge ahead with good intentions and bad luck. Phoebe is a very likeable protagonist who is incredibly easy to empathise with and care for, and the rest of the cast are well fleshed out and given room to grow. Essie Fox has written a book which successfully captures the duality of human emotion and personality, and weaves it through the narrative to create a haunting, but ultimately believable, story.

Though some may find the ‘plot twists’ predictable and there are several instances where it is hard not to know what will happen next, I felt more like a voyeur. I was watching Phoebe make the wrong choices, I knew the pain and heartbreak that lay ahead, and I could see the way a road would lead as she stumbled on down it. This is, after all, historical fiction and isn’t a crucial element of history knowing the outcome whilst continuing to unravel the story behind it? However much you may feel like Old Riley by the end of it, this book isn’t diminished by the lack of ‘surprise’.

And maybe this book holds a special place in my heart – my great grandparents were also Music Hall Artistes in late Victorian Britain – but I truly think there is magic to be found in The Somnambulist. This is an enchanting, haunting and utterly compelling tale which cast its spell over me from start to finish and which I, quite literally, couldn’t put down.

…And thank you Penhaligon’s Hammam Bouquet for leading me to the musings of an author I feel sure I will read for years to come.


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