Saturday, 10 March 2012

A Little Princess - Frances Hodgson Burnett (1904)

The other day I could not stop thinking about this book, and when that happens.. it's time for a reread! I adored this book as a kid. I stayed up late reading it, spent a whole day pored over it, used it to survive long car trips and then read it again. I think I should be regarded as a children's classic along with Black Beauty and Little Women.

The language is clearly outdated but since it is a children's book it is still easy to understand. Unfortunately some of the words, especially the slang, I don't know the meaning of  and they cannot be found in a dictionary. This is a great book and it brings back a lot of memories as I read it. Definitely a recommended read.

Sara Crewe has always gotten everything she wanted. But despite being spoilt, she remains down to earth, wise and polite with a big imagiantion. Her father leaves her at a boarding school, with the instruction to the owner Miss Minchin that her every wish be granted. She has a maid, a bedroom and a sitting room all to herself. She is brilliant at all her lessons and is liked by all the girls except the jealous ones. Then one day, lawyers of her fathers estate arrive and tell Miss Minchin that Sara's father invested all his money into a friend's diamond mines, and when the project tanked, Mr Crewe died of the stress. Sara now has nothing. Miss Minchin takes her on as a slave, forcing her to do all the jobs no one wants to do, dressses her in rags, leaving her little food, a dingy attic room and making her study all night so she can tutor the little ones. Sara has already befriended a maid and they imagine they are in the Bastille. Sara likes to pretend that she is a princess, and a princess must always be polite to everyone. When she is starving, she gives a beggar the money she found instead. The sickly, wealthy man next door feels for her and transforms her attic room by night into luxury - with food, a soft mattress and furnishings. His monkey climbs into her room one night and the next day she returns him to the man. She tells him her story, and she has been the girl he has been looking for all along. It turns out that the diamond mines were real, and this man is her father's friend. Sara returns to her previous life of luxury, and stills tries to be a little princess.

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