Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Little Lord Fauntleroy

Finished Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It was her first novel, published in 1886, long before A Little Princess (1905) and The Secret Garden (1911). It's a lovely, funny book originally published serially in Saint Nicholas Magazine.

Cedric Errol is a seven year old American boy who has been raised modestly by his kind and loving mother. Cedric is handsome, sweet tempered, intelligent, fearless and very sympathetic to those in need. One day a lawyer from England comes to inform his mother that due to the deaths of Cedric's uncles, Cedric himself is in line to be the next Earl of Dorincourt. The current Earl, Cedric's grandfather, wishes to have the boy come to England and be raised in preparation for his new role. He wants nothing to do with Cedric's mother. He was very angry when his favorite son married an American and assumes that she is low and mercenary.

Cedric and his mother travel to England. His mother lives in a lodge on the estate and Cedric lives with his grandfather. The Earl of Dorincourt is a lonely, bitter, difficult old man. No one likes him. Cedric's kindly innocence and generosity towards those less fortunate win him great popularity among the locals. His grandfather is puzzled and amused by these gestures of kindness. They eventually begin to rub off on him. The Earl's life changes far more than Cedric's does. He gains the respect and friendship of those around him. He realizes his mistake in shutting out Cedric's mother and then soon has two loving family members to spend his days with.

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