This review contains mild spoilers.
Alone in a new country, wealthy Sara Crewe tries to settle in and make friends at boarding school. But when she learns that she’ll never see her beloved father again, her life is turned upside down. Transformed from princess to pauper, she must swap dancing lessons and luxury for hard work and a room in the attic. Will she find that kindness and generosity are all the riches she truly needs?
The only way I can describe this book is heart-warming. It was a truly precious read from start to finish and when I closed the book for the last time I actually hugged it to my chest and wished I could discover it again for the first time.
I feel like there is something in this novel for everyone and every situation. Maybe we can’t all be saved by fortunate coincidences and great wealth in the end, but Sara’s attitude throughout her trials is definitely something to admire and aspire to.
What I enjoy most about this novel is that Sara isn’t perfect; nor is she a saint. She struggles constantly with her temper and frequently has to remind herself to be kind and think of others above herself. Her own hunger and despair is always put after someone else’s, no matter how hard it makes things for her. Sara’s imagination and generosity is so endearing I wasn’t even surprised when most of the characters fell in love with her and proclaimed themselves ready to do anything for her. If I met a child in her circumstances with that attitude, I probably would behave exactly the same way; she’s utterly enchanting in every aspect.
The plot is a basic one and the book sails through almost solely on the strength of Sara’s character. Frances Hodgson Burnett’s narrative voice is another impressive feature, managing to inject wry humour into the most terrible of situations with poignant reflections on society. And she manages to do this in a way that doesn’t condescend to young readers by making a character inherently good or evil; rather, she encourages them to see that adults can possess the flaws of envy and pettiness just as easily as children.
I adore this book. I feel that it’s made even more special with this edition’s introduction by Adeline Yen Mah. I had forgotten all about Chinese Cinderella and the role that A Little Princess played in her story; but after reading the book and reflecting on her circumstances, I feel that Frances Hodgson Burnett has managed to change the life of at least one person, and will have touched the hearts of millions more.
I rate it ★★★★½