Review: “A Little Princess” by Frances Hodgson Burnett

A Little PrincessA Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

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Sara Crewe seemed just like a real princess… When Sara Crewe arrives at Miss Minchin’s London boarding school, she seems just like a real little princess. She wears beautiful clothes, has gracious manners, and tells the most wonderful stories. Then one day, Sara suddenly becomes penniless. Now she must wear rags, sleep in the school’s dreary attic, and work for her living. Sara is all alone, but keeps telling herself that she can still be a princess inside, if only she tries hard enough.

3 stars

Yet another story I have to admit that I didn’t read until my Children’s and YA Lit class here at Ithaca College. Depressing, I know, but still the truth. Honestly, I’m not sure I could have made my way to the end of this one if it wasn’t required. Still, I didn’t come out hating it as much as I thought I would.

If Sarah Crewe is anything, Sarah Crewe is “strange.” Even her father thinks so, but only in the best possible way. Sarah is not like the other girls, but instead is a little woman who says the strangest, most grown up things and looks at the world in a decidedly grown up fashion. She has lived with her father in India all her life, but she reaches the age where she is to go to boarding school in England to become a young woman. When she is dropped off at said school, called Miss Minchin’s, she is treated as the star pupil, with a grand set of rooms and a maid of her own. The children flock to her as they would their mother. But when her father dies and Sarah becomes a beggar, the real trial begins. Can Sarah keep her imagination intact enough to survive her change of fate?

I’ll be honest, Sarah Crewe is the kind of little kid that I would have hated at that age. She’s fairly pretty, everybody loves her (well, except for the awful people), and she has a whole bunch of money. But even though she has money, she’s like a little angel who’s good with kids and generous and blah blah blah. She’s a virtuous little gem. The book opens up establishing her character very clearly, and I was so sure that I was not going to be able to like Sarah at all.

Sarah, however, is literally almost impossible not to like. She befriends those who others cannot stand, is nice to those who others do not notice and actually does have a couple of faults that she tries to manage. Actually, in these interactions it is the author that I come not to like so much, because of the way Sarah’s friends are described, as if they are ugly and dumb just to play up Sarah’s loveliness. But that’s another story…

I did expect, however, that some kind of tragedy was coming that would make Sarah lose her place at the top of the world. Of course she was going to go all Little Orphan Annie on us. That’s her trial. Still, I felt super bad for her at times, because her situation really was deplorable.

The thing where Sarah really got me was her imagination. Throughout everything, she always believed in imagination and “the Magic.” When she didn’t like something, she let her imagination make it something else, something better to get her through. Towards the end, I almost didn’t like that some of the magic was shown to be rather realistic, but I digress. Sarah still believed in Magic, and made me want to, too.

The end of the book went a little slowly for me, but that’s only because the book sets up how it’s going to end ten chapters in advance. It’s the slow build that’s supposed to tug at your emotions, but I just started flipping through pages faster. I just wanted the happy ending. If you like that kind of slow, emotional pull, however, this book does it really well.

All in all, I expected to hate this book more than I did. The English major in me could go on for a while, but I’m just going to keep it at that so I don’t bore you. This is my reader-ish impression, and it stands by the fact that this is yet another classic that might be worth a shot if you want to get it free on your Kindle.


2 thoughts on “Review: “A Little Princess” by Frances Hodgson Burnett

  1. I can’t imagine not loving this book! Although admittedly The Secret Garden was a bit more to my taste as Sarah is a bit of a goody goody (and Mary most certainly is not)

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