The Princess and the Suffragette by Holly Webb
|The Princess and the Suffragette by Holly Webb|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Eleanor Faulkner|
|Summary: This book is far more than merely an additional riff of 'A Little Princess'. This is a whole new story, just in the same setting, with the added dimension of a well-handled exploration of women's rights in the early 20th century. The gnarly historical fiction element does not make the story any less charming and cosy than the original, and Webb has successfully written in an uncannily similar style to Frances Hodgson Burnett. A pleasing read whether or not you enjoyed 'A Little Princess'.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 240||Date: October 2017|
|External links: Author's website|
I am a big fan of the beloved classic 'A Little Princess' by Frances Hodgson Burnett, but when I found out that Holly Webb had written a sequel, I wasn't sure whether to read it. On the one hand, I wanted to catch-up with the characters. On the other hand, I was sceptical that another writer would be able to match the warm and cosy innocence with which the original is written and I was worried that it would appear as a twee or weak imitation without much substance. I decided to take the book as a fun chance to see what happened to Sara and friends, and as an opportunity to wander nostalgically through the corridors of Miss Minchin's prim and proper school.
It was a pleasant surprise to discover that this book is far more than merely an additional riff of 'A Little Princess'. This is a whole new story, just in the same setting. The plot centres around Lottie, the cry-baby who Sara mothered in the original. Lottie is now 10, and it was a pleasing to discover her as a more fiery and loveable character than before. Lottie has lived at Miss Minchin's school since the apparent death of her mother when she was just 4 years old. She yearns for a life beyond the strict institution and the stifling life mapped out for 'young ladies'. Just like Sara had done in the original, Lottie develops a bond with one of the school's young maids and together they embark on a friendship that sees them swept up into the politics of women's rights. Stirred by the actions of Emmeline Pankhurst and Emily Davison, the duo daringly involves themselves in the rise of the suffragette movement, unravelling a deep secret about Lottie's mother along the way. As you can see, I should not have worried about a lack of substance.
The fact that the story is set against the turbulent rise of the suffragette movement adds another dimension to the book because it will make young readers aware that women have not always been on such a level pegging with men and cause young girls appreciate the work done by their female ancestors in securing better rights. The story may even empower some children to stand up for what they believe in, in the knowledge that traditions can be changed. It is evident that Webb has done her research well and she presents a gnarly subject in a sensitive way without being patronising; I admire her for not sugar-coating the fact that women suffered and died in some pretty brutal ways. It's clear that I certainly need not have worried about the book appearing as a weak imitation!
Webb writes in the same sincere, uncomplicated style as Frances Hodgson Burnett; it's uncanny. Despite this similarity, the style of writing is no less accessible to today's young readers and I would say that it could be handled by confident 8+ readers. The story has a similar, pleasing pace that flows well and manages to be just as charming and compelling as the original. I like how several original characters featured in the story and it seemed like I was being reacquainted with old friends. Webb has kept the characters true to their original form and my fond memories of them have not been tainted in any way by this sequel.
There are some references to events that happened in 'A Little Princess', but it is by no means a pre-requisite to have read the original. In fact, I hope the publication of this book will cause a whole new generation of young readers to discover Frances Hodgson Burnett's classic. The only problem was that I found the front cover too girly for a book which is about women's rights and rebellion! I hope it doesn't deter anybody from picking up this fantastic read.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Princess and the Suffragette by Holly Webb at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Princess and the Suffragette by Holly Webb at Amazon.com.
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