First of all let me say – do not be put off by the title. The Little Princess is not some cute fairytale or some generic book about horrible child abuse. The Little princess is one of the most dazzling yet subtle books I have had the pleasure to read.
Written by Frances Hodgson Burnett the author of The Secret Garden (another classic) The Little Princess explores how fragile life and security can be through a brave child’s eyes. It explores emotions such as courage, kindness and dignity above all else, but equally highlights that lack of these qualities in everyday characters. It follows the life of the young girl Sarah Crew and how wealth and the lack of changes people’s perceptions of you and the rights you are entitled to.
I had the luck of finding the most wonderful audio recording of the book on librivox (an audio recording website of books in the public domain) read by one of my favourite readers Elizabeth Klett whose timing, elocution and characteristic voice brings many stories alive.
You can find the free recording at this link, along with hundreds of other titles.
Elizabeth Klett also has her own website where you can find details about all her projects and work.
There have been quite a few film and TV adaptations which in my opinion vary in their success in depicting the books essence truly.
Here are my opinions on the most famous three –
This is the most untrue adaptation I’ve come across which over Americanises any British authenticity or quirks out of it, missing the point of the main character’s lack of spite and her unwavering composure throughout the story and turning her into a silly brat whose poverty stricken circumstance comes across more romantic then tragic.
My favourite adaptation comes in a 6 part episode series which was created as a London Weekend Mini-series. It stays true to the story and follows the visuals of a more classic period drama, it also doesn’t warp the characters in an unexpected way which would have a negative effect on the story but remains fresh and feels relevant.
A famous version starring Shirley Temple isn’t my favourite but certainly isn’t bad, for people who are more of a fan of vintage films or something quainter then this might just be the version for you. As soon as you start watching it you do feel like your nan should be sitting next to you reminiscing about old clothes and attitudes but you also kind of feel like you should be talking over it very fast with your friends like in Gilmore Girls.