kingshearte's Reviews > A Little Princess

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
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's review
Dec 18, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: my-faves, kids-books-i-love, kids, fiction, 2011
Read from March 01 to 03, 2011 — I own a copy , read count: Many

After some of the stuff I've been reading lately, I figured I'd earned a nice easy, delightful read. And what could be easier and more delightful than a re-read of one of my all-time favourites?

It's been a while since I last read this one, but I'm happy (although not surprised) to report that it stills holds up, and I still love it. I still don't know that I can quite put my finger on exactly why I love it so much, but I do.

As a character, I think Sara Crewe is pretty awesome. In some ways, she shouldn't be. She's so perfectly uncomplaining, polite and optimistic no matter what happens that you almost hate her. And yet there's something about her that is so charming that you don't.

I love the treatment that the notion of being a princess gets in this book, too. So often, behaving like you're a princess is considered a bad thing, and it often depends more on feeling entitled to be treated a certain way than on your own behaviour. Sara's conception of princesshood is not about that at all. It's about understanding and acknowledging that you are extremely fortunate to have the things you have, and that you haven't necessarily done anything to deserve them. And it's about the way you treat other people, regardless of their circumstances. Sara is unfailingly generous, both when it's easy because she has so much, and when it's the hardest thing in the world because she has almost nothing. And she is unflappable polite, even in the face of the worst abuse. She has outbursts, but only extremely rarely, and they're only momentary. Most of the time, she treats everyone with the same unfailing politeness, whether they deserve it or not. Which is not to say she doesn't call anyone on their behaviour, because she does. But even then, and even when her status is restored, she doesn't let loose with the shower of vitriol Miss Minchin clearly deserves; her verbal smackdown is still irreproachable, and all the more delicious for it. At the end of the day, it kind of comes full circle back to the issue of deservedness. Rather than believing that she has everything because she deserves it, she spends her life trying to deserve the things she has. Pretty awesome.

My one complaint is that Burnett does employ that most egregious of expository devices, the "Let's have an extremely stilted conversation about the events of the last X amount of time in order to explain them to reader, despite the fact that we are both intimately familiar with the afore-mentioned events, and would never in a million years actually have this asinine conversation." I would have much preferred Mr. Carrisford's activities to have been summed up in some narration rather than have to wade through that unfortunate section.

But other than that, I still adore this book, and will undoubtedly return to it many more times.

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