Monday, December 12, 2016

A Little Princess - Frances Hodgson Burnett

Summary: Sara Crewe, an exceptionally intelligent and imaginative student at Miss Minchin's Select Seminary for Young Ladies, is devastated when her adored, indulgent father dies. Now penniless and banished to a room in the attic, Sara is demeaned, abused, and forced to work as a servant. How this resourceful girl's fortunes change again is at the center of A Little Princess, one of the best-loved stories in all of children's literature.

This unique and fully annotated edition appends excerpts from Frances Hodgson Burnett's original 1888 novella Sara Crewe and the stage play that preceded the novel, as well as an early story, "Behind the White Brick," allowing readers to see how A Little Princess evolved. In his delightful introduction, U. C. Knoepflmacher considers the fairy-tale allusions and literary touchstones that place the book among the major works of Victorian literature, and shows it to be an exceptionally rich and resonant novel. (Summary and image from

Review: Okay, okay, so this isn't technically a Christmas book, but there's no better time of year to read such a delightful, sweet, touching story than now.  I've read and reread this book so many times, but admit it's been years since I have actually read it, and in preparation for writing a review,  I decided to read it again.  By read, um, I mean devoured.  I forgot how much I enjoy Burnett's writing.  It completely pulled me in and I was happy to go for the ride.

Sara Crewe has always had everything she could hope for.  She's wealthy, adored by almost all around her, imaginative, clever, and kind.  She often pretends little fantasies, simply because doing so brings her joy.  When the terrible news of her father's ruin and death reaches her on her birthday, she finds her fortunes completely reversed.  And, like so many others, she decides it's during the trial that her true nature will be revealed.

I simply can't wait for my daughter to be old enough to read this and love it as much as I do.  It was more difficult for me to read this time through simply because I'm a mother.  The thought of someone treating my children as Sara was treated broke my heart, making the big reveal even more impactful.  (I may have cried.)

This book is, indeed, overly idealistic and optimistic, however, the lessons for children about kindness, imagination, perseverance, and forgiveness are ones that are not only perfectly suited for every child, they're just the right fit for this time of year.

Rating: Five stars

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