Becky's Reviews > A Little Princess

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
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Jul 17, 11

bookshelves: classics, young-adult, 2011, ebook_nook, reviewed
Read from July 07 to 16, 2011

I am fairly certain that I read this as a little girl and really liked it, but I didn't remember it at all. So now I've re-read it, and find that it lives up to how good I think I thought it was. Mostly.

I say 'mostly' because there are a couple things that bother me about this story. But I'll get to that in a minute. First, I want to talk about the things I liked.

I liked little Sara, and her imagination and her sort of pensive consideration and understanding of the world and people around her. She's no Pollyanna, constantly, irritatingly upbeat and cheerful, but she tries to be considerate and calm and polite as well as she can. Sara has the whole "Treat others how you would like to be treated" thing down, but isn't afraid to tell other people how it is either. I really liked her.

I liked the concept of the book, that help and kindness will come to those who help and are kind to others. Kind of a pay-it-forward deal.

But, I thought the tone of the book was a little too pedantic, a little too preachy and moral - not that being moral is a bad thing, but I think it could have been conveyed in a less didactic way. Also, that there was a bit too much telling going on, and not nearly enough showing.

And now I'm back to the two things that annoyed me. First is the diamond mine, which Sara pictures thusly: "...labyrinthine passages in the bowels of the earth, where sparkling stones studded the walls and roofs and ceilings, and strange, dark men dug them out with heavy picks." That's a lovely image, isn't it? The glittering gemstones blinging off the slave labor's sweat. I guess "strange, dark men" aren't people, not like, say, a scullery maid is a person. Which brings me to point number two that bothers me.

All in all, this is a nice story about a nice girl who falls on hard times but still tries to be nice. It's nice. But all the goodness and "magic" and whatnot is returned to Sara, the rich girl nobody knows is rich. Why is it that Ram Dass sees two little girls starving and cold and mistreated, but only helps one? The maid acts too "servantlike" to be treated kindly by anyone except Sara? Becky gets the rock hard bed that Sara is too good for, and that's an improvement. That kind of double-standard kind of annoys me, I'll be honest. If they are going to all the trouble, why not share it among the two of them, rather than singling out one servant (the secretly rich and previously important one) over the other?

It's like saying, "Well, good things will happen if you're good... if you are also important. If you're not important but are still good, well, we'll let you have the leftovers, and try not to gush TOO much in your thanks." Even at the very end, it's treated as an honor for Anne to be allowed to be the one to give the food to the hungry beggar kids, simply because she used to be one and now has improved her station in life from street-beggar to baker's assistant.

Anyway, like I said, this is a mostly lovely and uplifting story - if you overlook the tiny social class injustices that are so everyday as to be expected. *shrug* I am glad that I re-read this one though. :)
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colleen the contrarian  ± (... never stop fighting) ± I agree with your points. I remember being annoyed with the bed thing, too. It was rock hard and lumpy and terrible - but it was ok for Becky.


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