Book: Little Lord Fauntleroy

"Little Lord Fauntleroy"

Seven-year-old Cedric gets quite a shock when he is whisked away from the streets of New York to an English stately home. He gets an even bigger shock when he discovers he’ll inherit a great fortune and a title. And Cedric is daunted to meet the grandfather he has never seen before, who is mean and selfish. But Cedric–now known as Little Lord Fauntleroy–is a very unusual boy, who takes it all in his stride…

I find this synopsis odd and very unappealing. It’s a good thing Little Lord Fauntleroy is a classic–and is well-loved by many Filipinos for spawning the animated series Shoukoushi Ceddie.

I’ve mentioned before that I have been looking for a copy of this novel for a while now. I finally found one, thanks to the assistance of the customer service representatives of Fully Booked in Green Hills. And while reading (and taking a break, in general) has taken a backseat because of all my real-world deadlines, I still snuck in a few minutes in between meetings to start and finish the novel.

As what I’ve come to expect from Frances Hodgson Burnett, Little Lord Fauntleroy doesn’t disappoint when it comes to lovable yet still believable characters. Our central character himself, though a tad too good-natured, doesn’t seem like a caricature of the martyr. Cedric Errol knows that there are bad things and bad people, and yet he chooses to look at what’s good. It’s something taught to him by his mother, and by the people who populated his life, prior to him being “whisked away to an English stately home.” And it’s this world view that arms him when he is confronted by a man whose generosity and kindness are widely exaggerated.

The bulk of the story happens after Cedric Errol, who is now known as Little Lord Fauntleroy, moves to England to live with his grandfather. And, as soon as this new chapter begins, a role reversal happens. Prior to this, Cedric Errol has been on the receiving end of people’s good nature; now, it is his turn to impart his good nature to the people who are coming into his life.

Admittedly, Cedric Errol is a simpler character compared to Sara (of A Little Princess) and Mary (of The Secret Garden). The latter two characters are more nuanced when it comes to their personalities. But, I think, it’s also Cedric Errol’s simplicity that makes him all the more endearing. And it’s this simplicity that makes Little Lord Fauntleroy a very fast and enjoyable read–if not as engrossing as the other two novels.

Nowadays, we don’t encounter many simple characters. Mayhaps because simple characterization makes protagonists boring. In Little Lord Fauntleroy though, we could argue that Cedric Errol isn’t really the main character–but rather, his grandfather is. It’s the Earl that takes on a journey of self-actualization, and the events of Cedric’s life are mostly plot developments to push the changes in the Earl’s life and being.

But that’s just what I think, and I’m very open to discuss this.

Which, by the way, is something I really liked about this novel. While I enjoy reading novels immensely, I never seem to want to discuss them with other people afterwards. I usually just say what I think about a book, recommend it (or not), and then move on. There have been exceptions to this, like in the case of the Harry Potter series, but it’s been a while since a book moved me to actually look for someone to discuss it with.

And there are plenty of things to discuss about the book: like the perspective changes that the author employs in writing the novel, the plot twists (and the deus-ex-machina like development in the latter part of the novel), and the effectivity of a protagonist that has no negative attributes. There are more, but these are the ones that are on top of my mind right now.

Have you read Little Lord Fauntleroy? What are your thoughts about the novel?

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