A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

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RATING: 4/5

REVIEW: ‘A Little Princess’ was one of my favourite books as a child, and my parents bought me a beautiful copy (shown above) as a present upon my recent graduation. I dived straight back in to re-reading it, and loved it just as much as I did all the times I read it as a child. ‘A Little Princess’ is an enchanting story of an unusual young girl named Sara Crewe. Eccentric, intelligent and imaginative is sent to an English boarding school by her beloved Papa after growing up in India. Sara’s Papa leaves the school’s two mistresses, the harsh Miss Minchin and the weak-willed Miss Amelia, with the strictest instructions that his daughter be treated like a Princess in every way, and provides her with an elaborate trousseau, lavish homeware and a beautiful doll whom she names Emily. Sara becomes the show pupil of the school, but despite this remains a kind and modest little girl. She befriends the plump, unintelligent Ermengarde, the timid young servant girl Becky, and the spoilt little Lottie, and enchants not just them but many of the other girls with her creative stories, which she is happy to share with everyone. When Sara’s father unexpectedly dies, however, Sara’s whole world is changed forever. She is forced by Miss Minchin to work as both servant girl and tutor to the younger pupil, banished to the attic, and out of loneliness befriends the attic’s resident rat (whom she names Melchisdec), and his family. Yet she remains constant in her kindness, hope and imagination, and retains her friendships with Ermengarde, Becky and Lottie, albeit in secret. Sara also befriends the Indian gentleman who moves in to the house next door, and whose monkey sneaks in to her attic one day. From then on, both the Indian gentleman and Sara imagine themselves as friends, despite their hardly knowing each other, and take courage from thinking of each other’s lives. Sara, as she deserves, in fact receives the happy ending she deserves due to her acquaintance with this gentleman; it turns out that he was once her father’s friend and business partner, and came to England in order to find Captain Crewe’s little girl and give her a proper home. Sara is restored to her former position, taking Becky with her as a lady’s maid and happily leaving Miss Minchin and her school behind to start a new, happy life as a little princess once more. The story is heartwarming and teaches a great lesson to children –  and indeed, a lesson that even as adults we often need reminding of – that even in the worst of situations, we should always act with kindness, hope and courage, because a happy ending is always possible.

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