She straightened her thin little body and lifted her head. “Whatever comes,” she said, “cannot alter one thing. If I am a princess in rags and tatters, I can be a princess inside. It would be easy to be a princess if I were dressed in cloth of gold, but it is a great deal more of a triumph to be one all the time when no one knows it.” This was not a new thought, but quite an old one, by this time. It had consoled her through many a bitter day…
Sara Crewe arrived at Miss Minchin’s Select Seminary for Young Ladies in London, when she was seven years old, settling in along with her trunkloads of velvet, lace, and furs, her own personal French maid, and an exquisite doll named Emily. Despite the elegance of her wardrobe, Sarah lacked the snooty airs of some of the other students, kindly caring for the smaller, forlorn girls as well as a young scullery maid named Becky. Nevertheless, sour old Miss Minchin is very peeved that Sara seems to be treated like quite a princess.
But. One terrible day, Sara receives the news that her father’s diamond investments have fallen through. She is penniless, and her dear father is dead. With one iron-fisted, cold-hearted swoop, Miss Minchin relegates Sara to a cold, barren attic and insists she work off her debts as an ill-treated servant.
Despite Sara’s anguish of heart, she determines to act bravely and kindly — in princess-like fashion. Her comfort comes from several companions — Becky the scullery maid; a rather dull-witted but sweet-natured classmate named Ermengarde; and a little girl named Lottie. Despite their friendship, Sara’s misery and hunger and loneliness grow worse and worse.
A reclusive neighbor from India and a mischievous visitor conspire together to bring about a dramatic surprise!
This is a classic story from way back in 1904. Though it was written in Victorian times, it remains a lovely, accessible story today, perfect for girls 7 and older. Some boys may be willing to listen to it as well though there are very few male characters in the book. Many people have illustrated the story. My favorite illustrations are by Tasha Tudor. As one who chose to maintain a Victorian lifestyle far into the modern age, Tasha paints with a splendid grasp of the style, fashions, furnishings, and overall feel that make the charm of this book shine out. I’ve loved this book since I was a young girl. Highly recommended!