Little Lord Fauntleroy, by Frances Hodgson Burnett – 1887 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
I just finished Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett, who is the same author, you may recall, that wrote famous children’s books such as A Little Princess and The Secret Garden.
Inside is an inscription, “Lucy Bowman Little From James & Mary – Dec. 25 1887”
Just a tiny bit of fun perspective – James and Mary gave Lucy this book when it was brand spanking new, right off the press practically, because the publication date is 1887, by Charles Scribner’s Sons. My copy is the closest you can get to a first edition without being a first edition. The first edition came out the year before by the same publisher and had the exact design for the cover.
This is an adorable, very heartwarming story! It is about a little American boy whose father is dead, and is being raised by his sweet mother. His father was the son of an Earl who was shunned for marrying an American.
The Earl’s three children are dead, and little Cedric is the only heir to his estate. The Earl’s first two sons were deadbeats who he would have been ashamed to hand over the estate to. His third son, Cedric’s father, could have been a contender, but then he ran off to the new world to marry an American, so the Earl wrote him off and cut him out of the family, and, in time, his son eventually died. As a result of all this, he has resented the little boy and the American mother, and has had no contact with them until now. The Earl is a cranky old man in his 70s, and hardly anyone likes him, and he doesn’t like anyone else, for that matter. Nevertheless, the Earl needs an heir, and sonsends for Cedric to take his rightful place as Lord Fauntleroy, and Cedric and his mother go to England.
Fauntleroy goes to live in a marvelous castle with his grandfather, and his mother is given a little cottage, because the Earl still refuses to see her, and hates her for taking his son away from him. This being said, she is given all the comfort in the world, but never asks for anything extra. She’s a humble woman and has pride enough to work for things. She volunteers in the community and tries to help everyone she can.
Cedric is a sweet, perfect, handsome little boy of only 7 years old, and he has no other thought but to help people and make people happy. He had many friends back home in America, including a bootblack and a grocery store owner. In fact, when he is first told that he could have anything he wanted in the world, he did not ask for a pony or anything at all for himself. He first thought of his friends who were struggling in the town, and asked for them to be taken care of with medicine and food.
The Earl and Fauntleroy take to each other like bread and butter, and the Earl grows to love and cherish Cedric, which wasn’t hard to do, but a very different sensation for the old Earl to experience. After a few months of getting settled in and inseparably attached to each other, a ghastly, terrible woman claims to be the wife of one of the earl’s dead sons (who, remember, were all deadbeats, except for Cedric’s father) and she has a child who she claims to be the rightful Lord Fauntleroy. The glaring contrast between the two mothers is the nail in the coffin for the Earl’s grudge of Cedric’s mother, and he realizes he has been totally stupid in shunning a perfectly blameless lady, when he almost had this nasty woman as a daughter in law. The imposter is exposed as the fraud that she is in an unlikely yet satisfying turn of events, and everything goes back to the happiness that once was, but even better, because they finally all become one happy family.
I give this book 5 stars out of pure enjoyment, and the sense of happiness and sweetness it gave me. Its innocence is just what I love in these old books.