A Reader's Guide to "Mandy" by Julie Andrews Edwards

Updated on October 12, 2016
Julie Andrews Edwards
Julie Andrews Edwards

Quick Facts

  • Title: Mandy
  • Author: Julie Andrews Edwards
  • Published 1971
  • Ages 8-12
  • Keywords: Orphan, orphanage, girls, gardens, secrets, cottage, nature, England

An Orphan Girl's Secret Hobby Becomes an Obsession

Julie Andrews Edwards’ Mandy, first published in 1971, works as a companion read to such classics as The Little Princess, The Secret Garden, and Anne of Green Gables, as it focuses on a girl longing for a home and taking comfort in her rich imagination. As a girl, I adored The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins, and learning that Julie Andrews had written a children’s book too was enough to grab my interest. And I wasn’t disappointed. Mandy became one of my favorites, one that I would return to over the years, including as an adult.

The story is fairly simple but it resonates deeply. Mandy, a ten-year-old orphan, has grown up in the orphanage in a small English village, St. Martin’s Green. As one of the oldest orphans in the home she enjoys special privileges, such as sharing an attic bedroom with her friend, Sue; working part-time at the grocery for pocket change; and having the freedom to take walks and play outside alone.

Still, despite her kind treatment and small freedoms, Mandy has bouts of sadness and restlessness, feeling the ache of never having known her parents, of never having a home of her own. So when she scales the wall behind the orphanage to explore and discovers an abandoned cottage in the woods, she comes up with a thrilling plan to claim the cottage as her own, fix it up, and enjoy her own secret place that is hers alone.

Thus, she begins this secret project, pulling weeds and planting flowers in the garden, cleaning up the cottage, and furnishing it with cutlery and household items “borrowed,” or pilfered, from the orphanage. Mandy quickly becomes obsessed with her cottage, to the point where she can’t bear to be away from it for long, and she guards her secret refuge even as she arouses the suspicions of Matron Bridie, the head of the orphanage, who notices her odd behavior (and items going missing from the kitchen and toolshed).

The book is divided into four parts named for the four seasons, beginning in spring and ending in winter, and these seasonal shifts reflect the changes in Mandy. In spring and summer, Mandy is blissful as her garden blooms and woodland creatures come visit seemingly without any fear of humans. But as winter approaches, Mandy’s worries start to pile on: Sue and Matron Bridie demand to know where she’s going each day, the cottage becomes more difficult to maintain, and the harsh weather begins to take a toll on Mandy’s health.

Just when Mandy’s secret life threatens to risk her very safety, an unexpected friend comes to the rescue, and Mandy learns that hiding away from the world cuts her off from the people who love her. In the last section of the book, she forges a relationship with a loving family, and in the end, she doesn’t need the cottage anymore. Mandy finds the family and home she’s always wanted.

The Book's Lasting Appeal

The book has a timeless quality; in fact, it’s hard to place it in any particular era. Except for the refreshing absence of modern technology, it could almost take place today. Edwards uses colorful details and imagery to describe the wondrous shell cottage and the nature surrounding it. Readers will be sucked in by the rich, almost lyrical language, and young children (girls especially) will identify with the sensitive Mandy and her yearning to have her own special place. Mandy’s love for plants and flowers may also foster an interest in gardening. Families can discuss many issues the novel raises, such as the importance of friends and family, the consequences of lying and stealing, the pride of ownership, and when it’s appropriate to keep or divulge secrets.

The 2006 edition in the Julie Andrews Collection features illustrations by Johanna Westerman that add to the charm and sweetness of the story.

Discussion Questions

  • Why does Mandy prefer to spend so much time alone? Is she lonely or content when she’s alone?
  • How does Mandy justify taking items from Jake and the orphanage without permission? Is she right or wrong? How does guilt affect Mandy?
  • Is taking care of the cottage a positive activity for Mandy? When does it start to become a negative activity?
  • Why does Mandy find working on the cottage so satisfying even when it’s hard work? What qualities does Mandy show by tackling such a big project?
  • Mandy is so determined to keep the cottage a secret that she tells several lies. How do Mandy’s lies grow bigger and bigger? What effect does this have on Mandy and her relationship with Matron Bridie? With Sue?
  • Is Mandy a good friend to Sue? Is Sue a good friend to Mandy? Why does Mandy forgive Sue for telling Mandy’s secret?
  • In what way is Mandy’s illness an “emotional illness” as well as a physical one?
  • Describe Mandy’s feelings for each of the Fitzgeralds. Why is she apprehensive about meeting Jonathan Fitzgerald?

Favorite Classic Children's Author

Of the following, who is your favorite children's author?

See results


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, owlcation.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)