Monday, October 21, 2013

A Little Princess

Computer is still down, folks, so I'm updating as often as I can!

My recent foray into Victorian England has reminded me of a childhood favorite of mine.  As I am still working on The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, I thought I would stop off at on memory lane and remember that lovely classic by Frances Hodgson Burnett, A Little Princess.

Princesses are taking a beating today.  There's an entire culture of mothers that are rioting against the idea of "making our daughters into princess."  I think it's a reaction to the commercialization of the Disney Princesses, making the idea of a princess the one of voluptuous beauty waiting for their prince to come.  Being a "princess" has come to mean that you have to look a certain way and have your life center around whatever guy you happen to be waiting for.  It has become commercialized into something pretty superficial.

There is more, however, to the idea of being a princess. 

A Little Princess is the story of little Sara Crewe who has lived her whole small life as a privileged daughter of the very wealthy Captain Crewe, a well-to-do British officer in India.  In due time, as many children of her age and station were in the Victorian era, she was taken to London and enrolled in a girls' boarding school.  The headmistress of the school, Miss Minchin, does not like Sara from the start because she can sense all the grace and beauty of heart in Sara that she herself never had.  However, Sara's papa is crazy rich and spoils both Sara and the school with gifts and monetary support, so she puts on a good face where her star pupil is concerned.  Sara quickly becomes a quiet leader in the school and a hero among the younger students, spinning stories, helping others in their schoolwork, and defending the outcasts and helpless, even down to the scullery maid, Becky.  However, tragedy befalls little Sara as her papa finds himself involved in some bad investments, loses everything he has, and then dies, leaving Sara a pauper on Miss Minchin's hands.  Miss Minchin responds by turning Sara into a scullery maid herself and treating her cruelly.  Through it all, Sara remains regal in her own way, bearing her burdens with a dignity that comes from way down inside of her and proving that real royalty has nothing to do with birthright or circumstances.  Being Princess Sara means that she looks out for others, finds joy in the midst of despair, and treats her enemies with a respect they do not deserve.  In the end, the story ends like a fairy-tale, and everything comes out just as it should, with surprise delights along the way.  Through it all, ups and downs, Sara remains as she always has - a little princess. 

This is a marvelous story, one that I have enjoyed for many, many years, and one that I can't wait to read to my own daughter one day.  Not only is the story absolutely perfect - the ending is something I go back and read anytime I need my spirits uplifted, there is a scene in which Sara gets to confront Miss Minchin and it is everything you want it to be! - but it is also a story of one young girl facing life with fierce determination and dignity.  The story of Sara Crewe is not a story of trying to look a certain way or falling into the arms of a prince.  Her story is one of courage and perseverance.  She looked life in the eye and said "No matter what you hand me, I will hold my head up high and face it with dignity and grace." 

That is the kind of princess I want me daughter to be!

And everyone loves a story with a magically happy ending.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
What I'm reading now: Great Tales of English History: The Truth about King Arthur, Lady Godiva, Richard the Lionheart, and More by Robert Lacey
Top 5 TBR:
1. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
2. Shooting Victoria by Paul Thomas Murphy
3. A Prophetic Calendar by Jill Shannon
4. Forgotten God by Francis Chan
5. The Lightening Thief by Rick Riordian

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