Wishing For Tomorrow

Today I’ve been reading ‘Wishing For Tomorrow’, Hilary McKay’s sequel to Frances Hodgson Burnett’s ‘A Little Princess’. I was both excited and wary about it initially because ‘A Little Princess’ is my favourite children’s book of all time, but Hilary McKay is also I’d say my favourite contemporary children’s writer, and having re-read ‘Forever Rose’ recently, I was convinced that if anyone was going to do a convincing sequel and not cock it up then it’d be her. Fortunately, I was right.

Someone, many years ago, did a sequel to to ‘The Secret Garden’, and it was dreadful. They did it as an adult book with adult age versions of the characters. This didn’t happen with ‘Wishing For Tomorrow’, it took off more or less where ‘A Little Princess’ ends, and was concerned with what happens to the girls at Miss Minchin’s Select Seminary once Sara Crewe has got her happy ending.

McKay’s very good at working in backstory, as well as developing the characters in a way that’s believable in the context of the original book. This means that the horrible Lavinia becomes agreeably human and even sympathetic, without losing her edge, the Minchin’s motivations for setting up the seminary in the first place are explored, and Lottie, whilst still infuriatingly badly behaved, comes across as much more than simply a spoilt brat. I liked it a lot, and I could see strong parallels between Lottie and the young Rose Casson at a couple of points, but I think that added to its charm. The period detail, and attention to dialogue, was good as well, and Alice the maid, a renaissance woman of sorts, was a fantastic, inspired, addition to the cast.

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