Fuse #8

Monday, January 08, 2007

Caught In the Act!

My intelligent readers know when to catch me in a bit of Birdian bluster. Just the other day I decided to test the waters and see if anyone would debate me on the relative merits of Little Lord Fauntleroy. I've always heard that it was treacle, but so few of us have read it that I thought I might be able to get away with calling it as such. No go, it seems. A smart-eyed Information Specialist in Charlotte by the name of Carl was quick to call my bluff on the matter.
I want to step up to the defense of a neglected book. How many of you have actually READ Little Lord Fauntleroy? Recently? I read it a couple of years ago in an American Classics of Children's Lit class and was prepared to be thoroughly bored but guess what--I couldn't put it down! Sure, it's the old cute-innocent-meets-crusty-old-guy story but it works! It's believable, not overly sugary or sentimental (the crusty old guy really isn't very nice and his inevitable transformation comes slowly), and you really come to care about the characters. It's a good book and deserves to be rediscovered. In fat, I'll throw another bomb out there and say that I agree with the professor of that class in stating that LLF is far superior to The Secret Garden! There! I've said it. Does anyone agree? Disagree? I'd be interested to hear what you have to say. Thanks! PS--I'd recommend finding an Aladdin Classics copy of LLF and read Polly Hovarth's intro.
So let's give LLF the attention it deserves. In this year's A Drowned Maiden's Hair by Laura Amy Schlitz, one of the characters grows enamored of the book and emulates LLF. You get the feeling, when the villain proclaims to dislike the title, that LLF is something to be admired. So how many of us have actually read it? Show of hands please. Thoughts on the matter?

In short, are yuh fer it or agin it?


At 8:10 AM , Blogger Liz B said...

As a kid I went thru a total Frances Hodgson Burnett kick & loved them all.

The Little Princess was my favorite, followed closely by Little Lord Fauntleroy. I loved the riches to rags / rags to riches aspects in both.

I liked The Secret Garden, but only about the first half; I'm not much of a gardener so a lot of the stuff about actually fixing the garden bored me.

I haven't reread them since.

At 8:50 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of my favourite books as a child was a large, red hardcover with all three of the Frances Hodgson Burnett stories in it. I read them all over and over. Loved them all, but yes, I'd rank them in the same order as Liz B although I didn't get bored with The Secret Garden myself.

In fact, now that I'm thinking of them I want to go to my Dad's place and see if I can find it so I can read them again.

At 10:58 AM , Blogger Chris said...

I read it and thought it ok- not up to Little Women, Eight Cousins, Narnian Chronicle standards. Never reread it though and never knew anyone else who actually read it.

At 11:03 AM , Blogger Dan McCoy said...

I too read all three, and liked Little Lord Faunterloy just fine, although it was a distant third after The Secret Garden (WAY at the top) and A Little Princess.

At 12:11 PM , Blogger Saints and Spinners said...

I read LLF when I was in 3rd or 4th grade, after watching the tv movie. I don't remember too much of the book other than having to look up the meaning of "gout," but I did enjoy it. However, this was toward the beginning of my reading boom, when I was just so thrilled to be reading that I was hungry for anything with a storyline.

At 12:24 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know if I've ever read LLF, which is funny, because I loved A Little Princess and The Secret Garden as a kid. I was feeling a slight inkling to go and read it after reading A Drowned Maiden's Hair, and this post will push me over the edge.

At 1:04 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hold it, hold it, hold it. Not up to the standards of Little Women, okay. Not up to Eight Cousins? I yield to no one in my admiration for those Campbell boys (and was shocked, reading Thoreau in high school, to find him familiar from Rose in Bloom) -- but it's pretty much a string of didactic beads on a thin strand of story. Even Fauntleroy's better, (though calling his mother dearest gives me the jim-jams)-- though even there I like Caddie Woodlawn's father's reaction to being offered an earldom.

And the Secret Garden is holy writ.

-- rams the cranky

At 1:20 PM , Blogger mbpbooks said...

Found it as an immigrant kid wandering the stacks of Flushing Public Library, read it, and loved it (though not as much as Garden and Princess). I re-read my antiquarian, cloth-bound copy of it about every two years, along with an equally ancient copy of "The Lost Prince." Have you read that?

At 4:27 PM , Blogger Lisa Yee said...

I too read all three when I was growing up. I remember loving LLF, as well as the Little Princess and The Secret Garden. Though, like Mitail, LLF came in third.

At 5:10 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read LLF as a child and although I can't remember disliking it, I never re-read it. Unlike The Secret Garden and A Little Princess, which I've read too many times to count! So I've always thought of it as a a meh kind of book.

At 8:14 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I re-read Fauntleroy and the other Burnett books every year--and check out any and all film versions, stage versions, etc. (Best Fauntleroy movie version, in my opinion, is the Ricky Schroeder/Alec Guinness production). For fun, look into "Fauntleroy!" the musical. Or give yourself a freak-out with this one:
Got to love that parting shot!

I have found Burnett books that I thought were "lesser" (The Lost Prince, for example), but LLF isn't one of them. I enjoy it every time.

At 9:27 AM , Blogger Chris said...

Hey Anonymous- I didn't trash Secret Garden. I was carefully silent on it. Burnett just never was one of my favorites. But Eights Cousins is still a favorite- preachy though it was (so is Little Women and Little Men/Jo's Boys). I am thinking it is genetic because my daughter loves, loves Eight Cousins, too. I have come to the conclusion that a book has to come to you at the right time in your life or, no matter how good it is, it will not be one of your lifelong favorites, a touchstone of sorts.

At 2:43 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was inspired by your discussion to re-read LLF. My review is here, if anyone is interested. I thought that it held up well, once you get past certain attributes.


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