Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sunday Salon: Reading A Little Princess (1905)

A Little Princess. Frances Hodgson Burnett. 1905. 264 pages.

I really enjoyed reading A Little Princess. I think I loved it even more than Secret Garden. (Which is your favorite?) The novel begins with a sad goodbye: Captain Crewe is placing his daughter, Sara, in a boarding school. Their parting is perhaps necessary, but, difficult all the same. Neither know that it is forever. For Sara Crewe's status will change from daughter of a wealthy well-respected man to penniless orphan girl. Only Sara's truest friends will be with her to support her. Through it all, Sara holds on to her dignity. Is Sara as spirited as some of the other heroines we've read about? I think she has great spirit to her. 

I love A Little Princess because of the writing--the descriptions, the characterization, the storytelling. It's a great story. 

Just as Pollyanna reminded me of the story of Joseph (from Genesis), A Little Princess reminds me of the story of Job (from Job). 

Sara with her father:
Then he went with Sara into her little sitting room and they bade each other good-by. Sara sat on his knee and held the lapels of his coat in her small hands, and looked long and hard at his face. "Are you learning me by heart, little Sara?" he said, stroking her hair. "No," she answered. "I know you by heart. You are inside my heart." And they put their arms round each other and kissed as if they would never let each other go.
Other favorite quotes:
"Why," she said, "we are just the same—I am only a little girl like you. It's just an accident that I am not you, and you are not me!"
"I've often thought," said Sara, in her reflecting voice, "that I should like to be a princess; I wonder what it feels like. I believe I will begin pretending I am one."
"She says it has nothing to do with what you look like, or what you have. It has only to do with what you THINK of, and what you DO."
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.
"You are always supposing things," said Lavinia, and her air was very superior. "I know I am," answered Sara, undisturbedly. "I like it. There is nothing so nice as supposing. It's almost like being a fairy. If you suppose anything hard enough it seems as if it were real." "It's all very well to suppose things if you have everything," said Lavinia. "Could you suppose and pretend if you were a beggar and lived in a garret?"
You see how true it is. There's no difference now. I'm not a princess anymore." Becky ran to her and caught her hand, and hugged it to her breast, kneeling beside her and sobbing with love and pain. "Yes, miss, you are," she cried, and her words were all broken. "Whats'ever 'appens to you—whats'ever—you'd be a princess all the same—an' nothin' couldn't make you nothin' different."
"You are nicer than I am," said Sara. "I was too proud to try and make friends. You see, now that trials have come, they have shown that I am NOT a nice child. I was afraid they would. Perhaps"—wrinkling her forehead wisely—"that is what they were sent for." "I don't see any good in them," said Ermengarde stoutly. "Neither do I—to speak the truth," admitted Sara, frankly. "But I suppose there MIGHT be good in things, even if we don't see it. There MIGHT"—DOUBTFULLY—"Be good in Miss Minchin." Ermengarde looked round the attic with a rather fearsome curiosity. "Sara," she said, "do you think you can bear living here?" Sara looked round also. "If I pretend it's quite different, I can," she answered; "or if I pretend it is a place in a story."
"Oh, Sara!" she said. "You ARE queer—but you are nice." "I know I am queer," admitted Sara, cheerfully; "and I TRY to be nice." She rubbed her forehead with her little brown paw, and a puzzled, tender look came into her face. "Papa always laughed at me," she said; "but I liked it. He thought I was queer, but he liked me to make up things. I—I can't help making up things. If I didn't, I don't believe I could live." She paused and glanced around the attic. "I'm sure I couldn't live here," she added in a low voice.
When people are insulting you, there is nothing so good for them as not to say a word—just to look at them and THINK.
Then it was Sara's turn again. "I will attend to you tomorrow. You shall have neither breakfast, dinner, nor supper!" "I have not had either dinner or supper today, Miss Minchin," said Sara, rather faintly. "Then all the better. You will have something to remember. Don't stand there. Put those things into the hamper again." She began to sweep them off the table into the hamper herself, and caught sight of Ermengarde's new books. "And you"—to Ermengarde—"have brought your beautiful new books into this dirty attic. Take them up and go back to bed. You will stay there all day tomorrow, and I shall write to your papa. What would HE say if he knew where you are tonight?" Something she saw in Sara's grave, fixed gaze at this moment made her turn on her fiercely. "What are you thinking of?" she demanded. "Why do you look at me like that?" "I was wondering," answered Sara, as she had answered that notable day in the schoolroom. "What were you wondering?" It was very like the scene in the schoolroom. There was no pertness in Sara's manner. It was only sad and quiet. "I was wondering," she said in a low voice, "what MY papa would say if he knew where I am tonight." 

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Amanda said...

You know, I've never read the book but growing up I love loved the movie with Shirley Temple.

hopeinbrazil said...

I've never been able to choose between Secret Garden and Little Princess. Both are great stories. Too bad Burnett's other books never reached the same standard.