Today’s A to Z Challenge post will take me good 25 years back (if not more), to one of the most charming books I’ve read as a child. But truth to be told, it all started with a movie, not the book itself. If I recall correctly, it wasn’t the shortened and simplified version with young Shirley Temple, but a Japanese animated series. Of course, when I discovered “A Little Princess” is actually a book, I could not ignore it, and found it already waiting on my bookshelf where my mom had placed it.
As you might already know, “A Little Princess” by Frances Hodgson Burnett tells a story of Sara Crewe who spent her childhood in India, where her father, a wealthy British captain, was stationed. Sara arrives to London to stay in an exclusive boarding school to receive education proper to a young lady, while her father will go back to India. Before he leaves, captain Crewe showers little Sara with presents, beautiful clothes, books, dolls, and anything little girl could dream of, which not only sparks jealousy of some of the girls in the school, but also earns Sara her nickname.
Things change drastically for Sara when news of her father’s tragic death and bankruptcy reach London, and a pampered little girl is forced to become a servant in the very school she attended.
Needless to say, Sara Crewe’s misfortune got me glued to the pages, and it wasn’t once, but many times. Just like the girls in the boarding school, I loved Sara’s imagination, and her stories, but her will and composure impressed me even more. She hardly ever cried, she accepted her plight with dignity, but not pride. My favorite part of the book is of course when the “magic” starts to happen and brings a ray of hope into Sara’s life. In case you haven’t read the book yet, I won’t spoil it for you.
So what makes the book so special for me? The main character, as even in her worse moments, Sara doesn’t stop being kind and polite. It is also, in a way, a beautiful fairy tale full of warmth and hope, though there’s nothing supernatural in Sara’s life. Lastly, the book has a power of enchanting regardless of the reader’s age: last year I’ve read the book again, and it held the same spell over me as it did 25 years ago.
I mentioned the movie adaptation in the beginning, and even though I enjoyed watching it, I felt disappointed that the story had been changed to provide a more happy ending, at the same time stripping “A Little Princess” of most of its magic and still a happy, but a more logical ending.
Joanna Maciejewska is a fantasy and science fiction author who enjoys all things SFF: books, movies, and video games.
Her short stories appeared in magazines and anthologies in Polish and in English.
Her epic fantasy adventure series, starting with By the Pact, is available in ebook and paperback at all major retailers.