My favourite film from childhood, I can remember my dad taking me to the cinema aged five to see A Little Princess, the story of Sara Crewe. Even now it never fails to bring a tear to my eye and I hadn’t read the book for over 10 years, so what better way to rekindle my love for an old favourite.
The novel somewhat differs from the film adaptation but still circles around Sara Crewe, a young girl who is taken to Miss Minchin’s school for girls by her father, who is off to fight in war. A far cry from her life in India where she’s used to luxuries and riches, Sara soon has to adapt to life with strict rules and no lavish treatments. Despite this, she becomes popular with the other girls because of her love for make-believe and storytelling and she is regarded a princess, a notion she believes in herself.
After hearing from her father that he and a friend have taken control of a diamond mind, Sara’s 11th birthday is ended abruptly and what is supposed to be a happy day of celebration, soon becomes sad. After being treated to a luxurious party with all the girls attending, Sara soon finds out her father has died from jungle fever – and the partner from the mines is also missing. From that day on Sara becomes a beggar girl, similar to Becky who also lives in the attic. Being made to dress in oversized rags and hand back all of her possessions, Sara has to run errands and teach the younger pupils, while being wrongly treated and starved. Regardless of the way Miss Minchin abuses her, Sara still has Becky and a rat (that she names Melchisedec) for company – the imaginative stories still continue.
She also makes friends with the family living next door and it’s later revealed the man who moved in from India was her father’s partner. Seeing Sara and Becky live in such horrendous conditions, he secretly sends the pair of them food and other luxuries, without revealing his identity. When it is finally revealed that Sara is Captain Cook’s daughter and Mr Carrisford is the partner from the diamond mine, Sara leaves Miss Minchin’s elementary and her riches are restored.
“I pretend I am princess, so that I can try and behave like one”
A real heart-warming story, A Little Princess is moving and no matter how old you are, you will never tire of reading it. The make-believe aspect is empowering, making you feel as though you are there. The riches to rags (and back to riches) feel is overwhelming and the classic fairytale happy ending is the outcome that the reader would hope for.
It’s dramatic, yet beautiful, telling the story of overcoming adversity. A must-read that you’ll be unable to put down, transport yourself to Sara’s world, enjoying exciting yet magical adventures.