Foreword: Even though I wasn’t originally going to watch the Royal Wedding, I flicked onto a live channel for a few seconds and didn’t stop watching for another six hours. Probably one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. Incredibly hopeful, optimistic and just plain delightful. So, I decided to review a book that I believe is relevant to all boys and girls who watched the ceremony and simply wanted to be Kate or Will.
This is definitely a book that I would suggest reading in the early teens. Of course most teenagers have no concept of depth but I believe that it is a book which stays with the reader for a lifetime. I read it last year and ever since then, I have taken a lot of its lessons to heart.
A Little Princess is the story of an intelligent and imaginative young girl called Sarah Crewe who is enrolled in Miss Minchin’s Select Seminary for Young Ladies. Her father, unfortunately, dies and leaves nothing for poor Sarah but the memory of his love. In debt and orphaned, she is employed as a servant in the school where she goes from being the most wealthy student, to the poorest servant. But, being the girl that she is, her handling of the situation is what most intrigues the reader.
“Whatever comes,” she said, “cannot alter one thing. If I am a princess in rags and tatters, I can be a princess inside. It would be easy to be a princess if I were dressed in cloth of gold, but it is a great deal more of a triumph to be one all the time when no one knows it.” – Sarah Crewe
Hopefully the quote above gains a small insight into the wonderful character of Sarah. Like a lot of children, she has her moments of naivety and silliness but all the time, she displays a wonderful sense of wisdom and common sense that is so endearing that it’s believable. A lot of her good traits comes from her father, a wonderful man who truly loves his daughter with all of his heart. Above, my summary of the book states that yes, he does not leave her anything. However, that isn’t a flaw of his character and it is never the opinion of Sarah that he neglected his fatherly duties.
The book has an interesting writing style as well. As it was written in 1905, the writing does not follow the flowing style of modern books, but also does not follow the sometimes difficult styles of most classics, especially before the turn of the century. However, there is a balance between these two extremes of heavy classics and simple moderns, which lends an interesting flow that is quite easy to follow but still filled with the depth of great classics.
There are some great themes of modesty within the book. Even as a wealthy young girl, Sarah is never portrayed as being spoiled or selfish, which is almost refreshing, considering the stereotype of such young girls being as such. You can see this in the quote below:
“If nature has made you for a giver, your hands are born open, and so is your heart; and though there may be times when your hands are empty, your heart is always full, and you can give things out of that–warm things, kind things, sweet things–help and comfort and laughter–and sometimes gay, kind laughter is the best help of all.” – Sarah Crewe
There is also a general theme of cultural acceptance which centers mostly around the India culture. Obviously in 1905, the middle east, Africa and India were of heightened importance to the British who were, at that time, in the midst of maintaining or conquering it. However, Frances Burnett really focuses on the beauty of their culture, the nature of that country and the wonderful people who come from it.
Sarah encounters some interesting trials and in nearly every one of them, her good nature convinces others to be optimistic and happy. However, as with most books, there is always a villain to the selfless hero and this book is no exception. Miss Minchin is an exceedingly interesting character who, despite the awful things that she does, is never entirely evil. In fact, Sarah almost convinces the reader to feel sympathy for her, especially as Sarah seems to be so full of life while she is so lacking in it. The quote below exhibits an interesting thought of Sarah’s which comes across her when speaking to Miss Minchin (or rather, being shouted at).
“When you will not fly into a passion people know you are stronger than they are, because you are strong enough to hold in your rage, and they are not, and they say stupid things they wish they hadn’t said afterward. There’s nothing so strong as rage, except what makes you hold it in–that’s stronger. It’s a good thing not to answer your enemies.” – Sarah Crewe
All in all, I would definitely suggest this to anyone who needs something inspiring or hopeful to read. Even if you are male, or not young, you should still read this. It is a great book to reflect on and one that makes you hope for a meeting with such a special little girl.
One of my absolute favorite movies and the entire reason that I read this book is A Little Princess, made in 1995. How can I explain something that is so dear to me? Well, I can’t. Just watch it!
I don’t like suggesting anything I haven’t read or watched so I guess that’s all for the adaptations sections 😀 Hope you enjoyed, tell me what you thought of the book or what you think of the review!