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A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett (Thoughts)

December 15, 2011

A Little Princess is one of those books that everyone seems to have read and loved as a little wee little one. I think I’ve seen the movie (and just the remake, at that), but I had never read the book. I bought it a while ago on a whim, despite its creepy cover, vaguely remembering that it sounded like something lots of people have loved. I am so very glad I did. Also glad that it’s hardcover and I could remove the creepy dust jacket. Usually I put dust jackets back on when I finish a book, but I think this one’s just going to stay off.

Sara Crewe has been left at a London all-girls boarding school, by her doting, no-expense-spared father, while he heads back to India to be a soldier, find his fortune, etc. Then tragedy strikes and Sara suddenly falls from star pupil with the sumptuous rooms, to lowest ranked, hardest worked servant in a drafty attic room. Everyone, especially the no-nonsense headmistress Miss Minchin, knows that these turn of events would completely break a normal child. But Sara is no normal little girl. With an amazing inner strength and aptitude for storytelling, Sara hold her own and invents a world in which she and Becky, the scullery maid, can survive.

See? Much better.

I don’t know what else to say about A Little Princess besides that it was delightful. Completely and utterly delightful. Frances Hodgson Burnett had me completely won over before I even finished the author’s note at the beginning. She charmed my socks off in less than two pages and had me primed and ready for one of my top books of the year, maybe even ever.

Sara is such a wonderful character – imaginative and honest and kind, and somehow never annoyingly over the top in any of those. I think her realistic-ness comes from the fact while she has a natural ability to have pity for and show kindness to most, she has to work really really had to be kind to people like, say, Miss Minchin.

If you haven’t yet read A Little Princess, it’s definitely not too late to do so and still be able to full enjoy it. Now I need to add ‘Watch the 1939 movie adaptation’ and ‘Read The Secret Garden‘ to my to-do list.

My rating: 10/10

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. December 15, 2011 12:10 am

    Oh, there are so many better covers. I have two. One is purple with Sara and her doll and I’ve had that one since 4th grade. My Grade 4 teacher gave every student in his class (and it was NOT a small class. At least 25 kids, if not more.) a personalized book. This was mine and I’ve loved it ever since. It was one of the few books I brought with me when we moved from Ontario to Saskatchewan.

    Both versions of the movie are alright, but the book is oh so much better as you now know ;)

    • December 16, 2011 10:30 am

      Aw, the copy from your teacher sounds lovely – and the perfect gift. I still have the dust jacket of this book laying around (I read it a couple months ago), but now I’m thinking I might actually throw it out.

  2. December 15, 2011 4:08 am

    Ugh, that cover is HORRIBLE. The Tasha Tudor illustrated version is much nicer. But so glad you loved this! I read this on a Trailways bus between 8 pm and midnight a few days before Christmas (I was maybe 11?) and to this day, a reread brings me back to that little space with its tiny bus-light halo and the magic bursting out of my little paperback book. I think you will also like The Secret Garden (although its heroine is a good bit edgier) and you may also like the much-maligned Little Lord Fauntleroy. (Everybody makes a nasty gag-me face over little Ceddie (the hero) but I am super-fond of him.)

  3. December 15, 2011 4:10 am

    Oh, and also? Do yourself a favor and avoid the Shirley Temple version of this book. It is horrifying. The worst casting in history, possibly.

    • December 16, 2011 10:27 am

      Too late!! I already watched it. Well, at least I tried to watch it and had to turn it off halfway through. Everyone seems to love the movie – but I’m with you. Not only is the casting way off, what the heck did they do to that lovely story? They tore it to shreds and just danced all over the remaining bits and pieces.

      • December 16, 2011 9:39 pm

        Hm, I remember loving it as a kid. I wonder if I still would if I watched it today?

  4. December 15, 2011 6:38 am

    I just love this book. Not quite as much as The Secret Garden but still a lot. It’s one of the best comeuppance stories ever and I love that, too. :)

    • December 16, 2011 10:23 am

      I really need to read the Secret Garden. I have two versions of the movie, both of which I watched endlessly growing up. I think I tried reading the book when I was younger, but it just wasn’t happening for me. I’m sure I would enjoy it much more now.

  5. December 15, 2011 7:06 pm

    Holy crap is that cover scary. Anyway, I don’t remember reading ALP when I was young, but I do remember watching the 1990s movie. It depressed me so much I swore off FHB forever– until I read The Secret Garden, anyway. :P

    • December 16, 2011 10:22 am

      Aw, try the book again! It is not depressing whatsoever. It is absolutely lovely.

      But what’s not lovely – this cover. And the picture doesn’t even do it justice. You need to click through to the publisher’s site and take a look at the enlarged version. It has these weird wood-cut-ish lines throughout it.

  6. December 16, 2011 9:37 pm

    Yeah, that cover has got to go. I grew up watching the Shoirley Temple version and didn’t read the book until college. Both are amazing!

  7. December 17, 2011 6:18 am

    That…is one of the worst covers I have ever seen, not just for A Little Princess but, like, in the history of covers. That shouldn’t even be allowed. In re movies, I am shamingly fond of the 1995 one even though it totally changes the ending (I wanted the ending to be different anyway).

    Also, a British children’s author called Hilary McKay did something that should have been a catastrophe, which was to write a sequel to A Little Princess, called Wishing for Tomorrow. I am not a fan of sequels written by someone other than the original author, and if I didn’t love Hilary McKay so much I wouldn’t even have read it. But it’s a charming, delightful book. You should read it. It’s not about Sara, it’s about the girls she leaves behind at Miss Minchin’s.

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