I just loved this classic children's story again after many years, having found it on another library's list of classic children's fiction. The mean and horrible Earl of Dorincourt had previously severed relations with his youngest son for marrying an unimportant American commoner, and now he finds that he needs the unknown grandson as this heir. So the Earl summons the young barbarian to the family estate in England, expecting the worst.
We, who haven't read the story in a long time, remember this as a rags-to-riches tale of a poor boy who finds himself suddenly wealthy and influential. Bah! This reading I was fascinated by the old aristocratic bigoted grandfather who has lived so long without learning important lessons.
I am reminded of other "children's classics" where unexpected, unwelcome children enter the lives of grumpy antisocial elders. The grownups are the people who grow as a result! Check out Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter (the Glad Game?) and Good night, Mr. Tom by Michelle Magorian. Did these books change, or did I? Maybe you, too, need a review of classic children's literature!
Little Lord Fauntleroy (1885, 1886) by Frances Hodgson Burnett is a beloved children's novel that made a huge impact on the 19th century public, shaping everything from boys' clothing fashions to copyright law. Cedric Errol is a generous, kind, and exemplary middle-class American boy who is suddenly found to be the heir of the Earl of Dorincourt. Saying loving goodbyes to his working-class friends, Cedric goes to England together with his mother to embrace his new fortune. His grandfather, the old earl, is a bitter old man ridden with gout and a foul temper, trusting no one. However the angelic boy elicits a profound transformation in the grandfather, which not only benefits the castle household but the whole populace of the earldom.
If only the old man's heart would soften toward Cedric's estranged mother, the family would be healed at last. And when another potential heir to the earldom makes a claim, it seems that everything is lost....
But all things are possible through a child's innocent trust, true friendship, and unconditional love.