I had long forgotten how the rest of the story goes beyond the beginning: Little Sara Crewe's father takes her from India to the boarding school in London; she is fabulously wealthy and treated like a princess; then he dies after making a bad investment and leaves her penniless. Now I get to enjoy the entire rest of the story along them as if it's the first time. I can't wait to see the ending but I don't want it to be over!
Reading this again as an adult, here are some of my impressions:
The vocabulary is hard. In the beginning there are several French words and phrases that I felt like an idiot trying to say, that had me wishing I could have spared maybe just one of the five years of Latin I took in junior high and high school, just to learn a little bit of French and how to pronounce things.
As far as the English goes, there are lots of very quaint-sounding descriptions, and words that I don't recognize. We rely heavily on context to figure out what is what, for example a "brougham." (It's a carriage.) Many times Delaney asks me, "What's that?" and I can only give her my best guess. When I say "quaint" descriptions, a good example of that is the frequent use of the word "queer" to mean "strange", frequently used to describe Sara who is not like any of the other girls.
One of Sara's friends speaks Cockney English and it's not too hard for me to decipher since I'm reading it and not hearing it, but Delaney usually needs me to say it again in a way she can understand. I want to see the movie so I can hear Becky talk.
This book might not have made much of an impression on me when I was Sara's age myself, but I love this strong, courageous little heroine. When her beloved father loses his fortune and dies, she is left alone and at the mercy of the horrible Miss Minchin. Angry at being burdened by the child, she takes away every single thing she has and works her to the bone. Of all the servants, she is the lowest, and endures abuses from all of them who enjoy tormenting the former "prize pupil" of the seminary. She is sent out into the harsh London winter with holes in her shoes, and she is often made to go hungry.
If any one of these things happened to any ordinary person, it would be enough to drive them to despair and even madness. But Sara, a keenly intelligent child with a vivid imagination, has always seen herself as a princess -- one who is noble, kind and generous. And she is determined even more so to be a princess even in the worst of times. The things that happen to her and the way she reacts to them have me almost in tears as I read. Would that I could even have an ounce of her fortitude and selflessness in my character!
Right now we're watching Elf until it ends at 8, and we'll read one more chapter afterward -- just one.
Since we're having a quiet Christmas here in SC, and two weeks of no school, I foresee us finishing this book in the next couple of nights and looking for something else to read. I'm thinking maybe The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe would be a good one for winter.