A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

A Little Princess - Frances Hodgson Burnett

'A Little Princess' is the story of young Sara Crewe. She is brought by her father from India to be boarded and educated in London at a select school. Her father arranges for her to have a ridiculous abundance of luxuries - which, somehow, don't spoil her - and special priviledges from the headmistress. When Sara's father's fortune goes South, Sara is stripped of her fripperies and made to work as a drudge. Through it all she stays true to her friends and keeps up her spirits through imaginary games.

 

This took me by surprise, the story's language is uncluttered and straight-forward. The modern young reader may need to have some contextual talk about the classism and mild racism present (Ram Dass' 'soft, oriental tread'). I personally have little qualms about offering this up as a classic that stands up to modern scrutiny.

 

Where the book really loses points is after Ram Dass informs his employer of the sad conditions the two little girls live in in the attic, they elect to only offer Sara magical comforts such as a lit fire and a soft mattress. It's a good thing that Sara is who she is and shares her good fortune with Becky, which makes up for this bit of snobbery, but it took me out of the story.