Having nothing better to do, I sat down recently to actually read the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett (1849-1924). I was extremely surprised by what I found. Far from being spoilt, Fauntleroy is a sweet little boy, seven years old, who has been plucked from his humble abode in New York City to become the heir to the Earl of Derincourt, who happens to be his grandfather.
Fauntleroy is not only a sweetie-pie, but he’s kind-hearted too, using the largesse bestowed on him by his grand-papa for the betterment of the needy people around him. He has large brown eyes. He nestles close to people. And he is so earnest, the kind of child whose preternatural wisdom makes him amusing to the grownups around him.
Nowadays, we find this kind of portrait of the perfect little boy to be unreal. Some might even find the portrait cloying, and the insistence on calling his mother “dearest” a little disturbing. But if you can put all of this aside, you are in for a treat. For despite all this, Fauntleroy manages to be real. Four stars. A book club recommendation.