Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Little Princess - reread

A Little PrincessA Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A perennial favorite and one that I reread for the Elements of Faith book club.

It is always interesting to reread a childhood favorite from the vantage point of many years later. The story is just as wonderful as I'd remembered, the writing right and evocative, the characters fully fleshed out with a few deft phrases and through their telling actions. What I didn't remember was Burnett's humorous way of describing things. It is not obviously funny but when reading the couple of sentences about Ermengarde's feelings about her father, I laughed. This book was written by children but surely can be enjoyed by any adult who enjoys a good story.

Sara Crewe reminds us that the true definition of being a princess is not to enjoy privilege but to be as gracious and stalwart in word, action, and intention as any dedicated soldier. That is a reminder we can all do with no matter what age we are.


  1. And here I found that book sadistic. :-( Go figure. Maybe my tolerance for childhood suffering is low.

  2. Tante Leonie9/2/11, 12:14 AM

    I love this book!

    "I have very few relations," said Ermengarde, reflectively ... my uncle is always asking me me things like ... 'Who died of a surfeit of lampreys?'"

    That never fails to crack me up.

    A Surfeit of Lampreys would be a great name for a punk band.

  3. Tante Leonie9/2/11, 2:29 AM

    By the way, the answer to the question is Henry I, in 1135.

  4. Tante ... Ermengarde's thoughts and experience always left me chuckling.

    Jane ... it seemed in line with most of Charles Dickens to me. As a kid it didn't bother me because, as with many things, what seems horrific to adults doesn't bother kids because they don't have the same experience or think of it the same way.

  5. Quite possibly, Julie. I don't remember when I read it. it might have been after my daughter died when I was extremely sensitive to that sort of thing (or oversensitive.)

    I'm actually relieved that you like it because my sense was that it was a classic only because of the other two children's novels it rubbed shoulders with. I adore The Secret Garden.

    The other one that always baffled me was the Lucy Maude Montgomery series about Emily of New Moon. The whole thing seemed sadistic, like why she didn't just plunge off a bridge in the middle of the first novel. I was only in my teens when I tried to read that, and I gave up on it even though I loved Anne of Green Gables and its sequels.

  6. I can certainly see why that might have left you with a bad impression!

    Actually I have never liked The Secret Garden. I read it a few years ago, hoping that I'd like it better but ... no, I disliked it just as much as ever. :-)

    I never read the Emily of New Moon series, but then again I am not really a Montgomery fan. Anne of Green Gables was enjoyable but I didn't care about the series. I was more of a Little House series fan. :-)

  7. Oh, I LOVE A Little Princess! And I absolutely hate how in every movie adaptation they have to make her father alive in the end, as if that's the only possible happy ending. GRRRR. Ticks me off. Not to mention that the whole "amnesia" thing is ridiculously cliche. But yes, a lovely book! I thought the author managed to make Sarah very very good without being saccharine or boring (mostly, anyway.) Lovely!

    And I want to speak in defense of Emily of New Moon, which I've actually read more often than the Anne books: I loved Emily! As a morose, moody, and altogether odd child, the books were just what I needed. Over the course of the trilogy, you see Emily learn to trust more in joy than sorrow, and learn to love good wholesome things, and not just the dramas of her "purple prose." Ah, I need to re-read those...