Once upon a time, I was obsessed with the 1995 film version of “A Little Princess.” So obsessed that I watched it over and over again during the eleven-hour drive from Dallas to St. Louis to the point that my father, who has never seen the movie, can recite lines from the film verbatim. It was until several years later that I knew my beloved movie was actually a beloved children’s classic originally published in 1904. I picked up a copy of the novel at a used book sale but never read it until now.
At the opening of the novel, seven-year-old Sara Crewe’s rich and doting father, Captain Crewe, is escorting her to Miss Minchin’s boarding school in London. He hates to leaver her behind, but the overly mature Sara says they both must bear it. Before leaving, the Captain tells the school’s headmistress, Miss Minchin, that Sara is to be giver anything she might desire in his absence. Miss Minchin, however, believes that Sara must be spoiled, but the headmistress keeps her thoughts to herself because she’s impressed by Captain Crewe’s fortune and quickly turns the well-dressed, well-mannered Sara into a show pupil. On Sara’s eleventh birthday, word arrives that Captain Crewe has died penniless after investing in his childhood friend’s diamond-mines and Sara has no relations to take her in. Forced to become a tutor for the younger pupils and a errand girl for the cook, Sara finds herself hungry, exhausted, and lonely.
I think I would have enjoyed this a lot more had I not been so in love with the movie version because while this one does have a happy ending, it’s not the happy ending offered by the movie. Additionally, I was slightly annoyed by the repeated reference to the fact that Sara is very mature; it was pretty obvious, don’t you think? Regardless, I can understand why this is such a beloved tale. This classic rags-to-riches tale says that you can be whoever you want to be despite your circumstances, despite what anyone else says to you. And I still think it is wonderful to know that every girl (and women) is a little princess.
- Burnett, Frances Hodgson. A Little Princess. New York: Scholastic, 1987. Print. 249 pgs. ISBN:0590407198. Source: Purchased.