Friday, March 15, 2013

Book Review of Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Name of Book: Little Lord Fauntleroy

Author: Frances Hodgson Burnett

ISBN: 0-451-52559-0

Publisher: Signet

Type of book: Lost Earl, America, England, cultural differences, secrets, 1800s, children's book

Year it was published: 1886

Summary:

Little Lord Fauntleroy (1885, 1886) by Frances Hodgson Burnett is a beloved children's novel that made a huge impact on the 19th century public, shaping everything from boys' clothing fashions to copyright law. Cedric Errol is a generous, kind, and exemplary middle-class American boy who is suddenly found to be the heir of the Earl of Dorincourt. Saying loving goodbyes to his working-class friends, Cedric goes to England together with his mother to embrace his new fortune. His grandfather, the old earl, is a bitter old man ridden with gout and a foul temper, trusting no one. However the angelic boy elicits a profound transformation in the grandfather, which not only benefits the castle household but the whole populace of the earldom.

If only the old man's heart would soften toward Cedric's estranged mother, the family would be healed at last. And when another potential heir to the earldom makes a claim, it seems that everything is lost....

But all things are possible through a child's innocent trust, true friendship, and unconditional love.

Characters:

The characters stay the same, at least Cedric does, while Grandfather does change for the better. There really is nothing else to mention when it comes to characters.

Theme:

If you are sweet and gentle you will get your way (why doesn't it work when it comes to marriage partners?)

Plot:

This is written in third person omniscient narrative from an observer of Cedric, as well as the Republican friend and the grandfather. I have to admit that this book didn't have a lot of plot going for it, but instead it seemed to constantly praise Cedric. Strangely enough, despite that major flaw, I actually liked the book. The other prince plot seemed to be thrown in as an afterward idea because it comes out of the blue and is resolved way too quickly for my taste.

Author Information:
(from goodreads.com)

born
in Cheetham Hill, Manchester, The United Kingdom November 24, 1849

died
October 29, 1924

gender
female

genre
Children's Books, Literature & Fiction

About this author

Frances Eliza Hodgson was the daughter of ironmonger Edwin Hodgson, who died three years after her birth, and his wife Eliza Boond. She was educated at The Select Seminary for Young Ladies and Gentleman until the age of fifteen, at which point the family ironmongery, then being run by her mother, failed, and the family emigrated to Knoxville, Tennessee. Here Hodgson began to write, in order to supplement the family income, assuming full responsibility for the family upon the death of her mother, in 1870. In 1872 she married Dr. Swan Burnett, with whom she had two sons, Lionel and Vivian. The marriage was dissolved in 1898, and Burnett was briefly remarried, to actor Stephen Townsend. That marriage too, ended in divorce. Following her great success as a novelist, playwright, and children's author, Burnett maintained homes in both England and America, traveling back and forth quite frequently. She died in her Long Island, New York home, in 1924.

Primarily remembered today for her trio of classic children's novels - Little Lord Fauntleroy (1886), A Little Princess (1905), and The Secret Garden (1911) - Burnett was also a popular adult novelist, in her own day, publishing romantic stories such as The Making of a Marchioness (1901) for older readers

Opinion:

I have read as a teenager the author's other books, and have wanted to read this one for a while. Strangely enough, despite the lack of plot (he arrives in England and things start going well for him, the author quickly throws in the "other prince" plot towards the end,) also the fact that Cedric had a "Mary Sue" vibe running around him due to lack of negative personality traits. (Its cool that he's a sweet child and so forth, but I would have liked to see him as a more rounded character instead of someone that people will not be able to relate to.) Perhaps that's why I'm having such a difficult time writing the review for this book?

3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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