It’s always surprised me that I immediately find myself sympathizing with Sara on such an intimate level. Her immense privilege should at least inspire some jealousy. And then she’s such a superior little thing. Her intellectual and moral supremacy only magnified by all the inferior people who surround her. I’ve always wondered why Ermengarde has to be *such* a dull, lumpen child? But the truth is that the little girls who read and respond to this will relate intensely to Sara. Burnett speaks for us girls who felt different and apart much of the time. This is a book that told us it was okay, even preferable, to be a little different. And if there’s a little smugness about the whole thing then I say so be it. Because there’s also this underlying message that while we may not get to choose our circumstances; we do get to choose how we navigate them. I love that more than I can ever express – it’s one of my constant personal mantras that keeps me sane and grounded in this life. Although Burnett was primarily talking about wealth and class – notions which are a bit dated now - it’s still a timeless concept which can be applied to almost any situation.
Perhaps the discerning grown-up reader in me should dock this novel a star for being so very Victorian, so overtly sentimental and superior…..but the thing is that it’s almost impossible to read this with a grown up’s heart and mind. This is one of those books that utterly transports the reader back to that time when grown-ups and their concerns were a mystery. So, for having the ability to enchant and captivate girls (of all ages), I give back that star and hope with all my might that this is a book that finds its way to my own daughter’s heart and mind.
**A note: Mine is a hardcover edition with illustrations by Tasha Tudor which is just lovely and only enhances the 'experience'. I highly recommend this edition as a gift for a special young lady.