Wednesday, 15 April 2020

EstellosaurusReads Readathon: Week 1 Update

Happy Wednesday, guys! How's your life in lockdown going? Lately, my time has been filled up by reading & photography. I've been spending most of my days in the garden :) I have always been very grateful for the fact that I have a garden, as it is a big help when it comes to my mental health, but especially now, it has taken my gratitude to a whole new level! If you don't have a garden yourself, please make sure to get outside for a little while, at least once a week, even if it's just to venture around the block. Fresh air & surrounding yourselves with nature is important for your well-being, and it's nice to appreciate the seasonal changes that have sprung around us all now that it's Springtime. Anyhow... let me shut up my inner nature nerd and get on topic :D 

Today, I'm going to be talking about my progress now that I'm one week into the EstellosaurusReads 3 week, 4 book Readathon. If you haven't read my previous post, check it out now for all the important info :) And then you can join in, too! Now's the perfect time to throw yourself into reading and get transported to a world where Covid-19 is not wreaking havoc! 

So far, I have checked off the re-read category, by finishing A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I'm going to be sharing a little review for that in this post :) This story was a childhood favourite of mine, and I have the 1995 movie to thank for that. I didn't actually read the book until I was a teenager, and before this past week, I had only read it two times. It had been around 8 years since that second reading, and it's always interesting how our opinions and feelings surrounding stories can change over time. I still love it, don't worry! But it's fascinating how looking at the book with fresh eyes (if that even makes sense) and a few more years life experience has an impact, even if it's a small one. It did not take me long to complete this book, especially as the story gets going, as I am always pulled into it and it doesn't take long for my brain to start swirling with imagery. It's lovely to experience feelings of nostalgia when remembering things you were fond of as a child. I just didn't want to put the book down! 

I decided that next I was going to start the non-fiction category, as I felt like it would a good transitionary read between a children's book and the apocalyptic novel I'm planning on reading as my third book of the readathon. When it comes to non-fiction, I usually stick to the same subjects, the ones that most interest me, such a animal science, nature, psychology & true crime. But as I mentioned in my first post for the EstellosaurusReads challenge, I went with something different, and I'm interested to broaden my knowledge of the in's and out's of the UK's criminal justice system. I started Anonymous Author's The Secret Barrister on Monday, and so far, it's been a pretty good read. Up to where I am now, the author is going over the history of various sectors of the law, and how those have changed into what we now see in the modern day court setting. As a history lover, I have found myself pretty engrossed in these pages. However, I'll let you guys know more in my next update :) 

Okay, here's my attempt at a book review :D Apologies in advance if it's boring or I ramble! 

Firstly, I want to give this novel a rating of 5 stars! And thus, it's pretty obviously that this review is going to be a mostly positive one, but I will mention some parts that I wish were done differently and give my two-cents on the very few negative opinions I have. The blurb for A Little Princess is as follows: Alone in a new country, wealthy Sara Crewe tries to settle in and make friends at boarding school. But when she learns that she'll never see her beloved father again, her life is turned upside down. Transformed from princess to pauper, she must swap dancing lessons and luxury for hard work and a room in the attic. Will she find that kindness and generosity are all the riches she truly needs? I love a good boarding school setting! I'm not sure why, possibly because of its historical element (I mean, there are of course modern day boarding schools, but the kind that pop up in fiction are typically from another time period or run in the same traditional way that they have always done. When it comes to Harry Potter, for example... although it is full of magic, the school itself is dated, and it's wonderful!). 

The protagonist, little Sara Crewe, is easy to like! With a whimsical and fanciful nature, it's impossible to not find her endearing. Her imagination runs away with her constantly and we are given the impression that she was basically a story-teller from the moment she could talk. She's awe-inspiring to all who meet her throughout the story, and it is not difficult to see why. She's caring, very understanding of human nature for such a young person, and her personality makes one wish that they had a friend like her, at least I do! I can very much relate to Sara in that I would get carried away with myself all the time as a kid when it came to story-telling. I would go off on a tangent as my imagination took over :D I just hope that others thought of me as those around the protagonist do, and didn't find me annoying, haha! 

We are now heading into spoiler territory! I won't go into too much detail, as I might ramble on all night given the chance, but I will tell you guys all about my favourite and least favourite moments of the novel. 

What I Liked About this Book

As mentioned above, Sara's character is one of the best features of the story, in my opinion :) The book is set in the Victorian era, and so we are met with various customs surrounding class and societal expectations. There was a strict class system during this period of history and people were treat a certain way depending on which part of society they belonged to. Sara and the other students of the boarding school were upper-class, and as such we see that they have been raised to uphold specific judgements towards people who are lower in social rank than them. Sara, however, who was raised in India around many people who all lead different walks of life, is a very compassionate little girl and does not look at the world through the prejudiced eyes that those around her do. She is nice to everyone, even those who are mean towards her, and this is a lovely quality to possess, especially because it so contrasts the status quo of the period. 

One of my favourite parts of A Little Princess is the relationship between Sara and the scullery maid, Becky. Becky has been accustomed to a life of hardship and has always been treat poorly because she is a servant. The children of the school copy the example of their teachers & the figures of authority in their lives and so they shun Becky/ ignore her due to the difference in their situations. Sara was lovely with Becky from the start. As she told her stories to her peers, she wanted to share the joy of make-believe with all who were interested in hearing it, and therefore encouraged Becky to listen, too, to the confusion of the other girls. She and Becky fast-formed a bond as teller and listener, and Sara would organise for her new-found friend to meet with her whilst she was carrying out her chores so that she could give her a new snippet of a tale each day. It was so sweet! Once Sara's situation changed and she & Becky were now living under the same circumstance, their friendship only grew and it was heart-warming to read :) 

There are so many other things that I could mention as another favourite! But I'll go for the way that Sara has such a positive outlook on life. Due to the power of such a strong imagination and her ability to see the best in everything, she is able to always look on the bright side of life, as the saying goes. So much so that the people around her can't help seeing things the way she does. Her happiness radiates and she is very persuasive. There is a scene in particular when she is able to imagine that she is hosting a fine tea party in her attic bedroom, and is able to describe the most enchanting scene that her friends become fully enthralled in the fantasy, too. It's beautiful! 

I can't focus on anymore of the good parts now because my post is getting very long! Thankyou to all of you who are made it this far; I hope that you are finding my review to be an interesting one at least! :D 

What I Disliked About this Book 

Now let's discuss the parts I don't like! In the story, extraordinary occurrences take place. A man living next door, after having observed Sara's wonderful personality and her unique ways, decides to surprise our protagonist by transforming her attic bedroom into a tiny replica of a one that is fit for a princess. Whilst she is asleep, her room is transformed and she wakes up, as is to be expected, with amazed surprise to the extremely kind gesture. This is all wonderful, however, we find out that the man has been watching her (that sounds creepy, haha!) and he takes pity on her living situation. As Sara shares the attic with Becky, and they spend time together often, it annoys me that the man doesn't show the same generosity towards her also. Eventually, after watching the reaction of Sara in response to the bedroom makeover and that Becky was immediately invited to join in the splendour by her, he then makes sure to leave behind enough food for the both of them the following morning. It just somewhat broke my heart that after observing the both of them, he only took it upon himself to treat Sara. Why though? His character is described in such a way that we are supposed to see him as a very kind and caring man, and although he clearly shows that with his gesture, I still see an underlying layer of classism. He can tell that because Sara is a well-spoken, educated person, that she clearly isn't the typical servant girl, and she is given this surprise largely because of that. Yes, she is also kind and sweet, but so is Becky... so why was she not considered? Let me know what you guys think about this... singling out?

Also in regards to the treatment of Becky, it really disappoints me at the end of the novel, when Sara's place in society is reinstated once she is 'found' and made aware of her fortune, that she is taken away from the life of a servant and is once more going to be raised as a high-society lady, that Becky, her ally and now very close friend, is removed from the school, too, yes, but she is to become one of Sara's servants essentially. I don't see why the kind man who takes Sara in couldn't also 'adopt' Becky as well; it's not as if Sara's fortune is meagre, she's really rich!! Both girls could live very comfortable lives via her inheritance and Becky could be educated, as well. This would have been a happy ending for all round! I know that we are made to see this ending as a happy one for Becky, but she's still a servant at the end of the day. I understand that the book was written in 1901 (I think) and this ending for Becky would have been seen as a very fortunate one by readers at the time, but ugh. It just irks me. In the 1995 movie adaptation, Becky becomes like a sister to Sara. I could write a whole post about the difference between the movie and the book though, so let me know if that's something you'd like to see, guys :) 

I will force myself to stop here! I hope you all enjoyed reading my review of Frances Hodgson Burnett's A Little Princess. Please tell me if you did so I can stop worrying, and share more in the future. I'm having a lot of fun taking part in the EstellosaurusReads readathon! Be sure to check out Estelle's blog & booktube channel

Thankyou for reading! Have a lovely rest of the week, everyone! 

Have you ever read A Little Princess before? What's your opinion?

What about the movie adaptation I've mentioned? 

Also, I'd love to hear what books you're all reading right now :) 


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