The Other Side of the Wall

There’s something fascinating about the far side of walls.  Mandy by Julie Edwards (who’s also the actress Julie Andrews) is about what one girl finds on the other side of a wall.

Mandy is a ten-year-old orphan, who one day discovers a way through the wall at the back of the orphanage garden.  There’s a forested area on the other side of the wall, part of a large estate, and in the forest Mandy finds an abandoned cottage.  Mandy keeps the cottage a secret, and over the next several months sneaks out to it whenever she can.  She cleans the inside, plants the garden, and creates a special place for herself.  Eventually, because of the cottage, Mandy’s life is changed completely.

Mandy is a sweet character, and her story is a good one.  I think what always appealed to me most about this book, though, is the idea of the secret cottage in the woods.  I like cottages (although I read this book when I was very young, so I may like them in part because of it), and I so love the idea of the wonderful secret beyond the wall.

There’s something fascinating about doors in walls, about a valley hidden behind a hill, about open land on the other side of a creek or the country just beyond the next bend in the road.  It’s the hope that over there there will be a place that’s magical and wonderful and altogether different from over here.

One of Paul Simon’s songs has the line, “Everyone loves the sound of a train in the distance; everybody thinks it’s true.”  I don’t really know what he meant 🙂 but to me I think it’s talking about the same thing.  The train in the distance is going towards those magical lands over there, somewhere distant and exotic.

Of course, intellectually I know that if you actually go through the door or get on the train, 99 times out of 100 you won’t find anything very exciting, and over there will turn out a lot like over here.  But the feeling of the possibility persists.

And Mandy actually found something wonderful over there, and it’s wonderful to read about.

4 thoughts on “The Other Side of the Wall

  1. Pingback: PAPERLESSons - *Bookprint

  2. Diane

    This book reminds me of the old saying (cliche?) that the grass is always greener on the other side. It’s that same idea of hope that there’s something exciting and new just over the horizon away from where we are. Makes for good stories.

  3. I loved this book as a kid! I haven’t read it in a long time. I’m glad you posted about it, because I think my oldest daughter would really love it right now.

  4. ensign_beedrill

    Have you ever read The Secret Garden? Sounds like much the same idea and it’s really a lovely book.

    Everyone loves the sound of a train in the distance; everybody thinks it’s true.

    Our baseball park in Aggieland—Olsen Field—is built right along the train tracks. We have a tradition where if you hear a train whistle, you have to hold up a count on your fingers of how many engines you think the train has. Then check to see if you’re right when the train comes by. It’s great fun, especially if you guess something like seven, and there actually are seven. (Most times it’s between one and three.) Occasionally our PA announcer, Rick, will play a train sound over the speakers, but it sounds remarkably like the real thing, and a number of people inevitably fall for it and put their hands in the air. After an appropriate amount of time, Rick tells them that he was having a joke and there is no train. That’s what this quote reminds me of. 🙂

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