When their parents suddenly die, siblings José and Pepita are left in the care of their grandmother, already an old woman. Their uncle is a wealthy man, yet he only helps by giving the children some fallen fruit to eat every now and again.
Life is hard in rural Spain during the 19th century, and from a young age José must work in his uncle’s vineyards. José is slow and simple, while his sister, seemingly the more fortunate of the two, grows more beautiful every day. Surely a girl of such beauty must be destined for greater things, suggests the village priest, Padre Alejandro. He tells the children to travel to Madrid, and so they do, but life in the big city turns out to be just as hard as life in the countryside, and much more complicated...
‘The Pretty Sister of José’ by Frances Hodgson Burnett is not only a tale of struggle and romance. It is also a political commentary on the position of girls and women in a society that favours the limited few.
Enjoy Burnett’s descriptions of 19th-century Madrid with colorful markets where the smell of jasmine and orange fruits hangs heavy in the air, like the set of a film by Oscar-winning Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar.
Frances Hodgson Burnett was an English American playwright and author. Born in the UK in Manchester to a family of ironmongers, she later migrated to the United States where she would go on to write some of her most famous plays and novels.
During the span of her career, Frances Hodgson Burnett wrote and published more than 53 novels, most of them for adults. However, she is perhaps best known for her work in children’s literature, including famous titles such as ‘The Little Princess’ (1905), ‘The Secret Garden’ (1911), and ‘Little Lord Fauntleroy’ (1886).
Frances Hodgson Burnett is also known for her historical fiction, including acclaimed titles such as 'The Head of the House of Coombe' (1922) and its sequel, 'Robin' (1922).
Burnett’s work has been adapted for film many times. The latest movie adaptation of ‘The Secret Garden’ was released in 2020, starring Colin Firth and Julie Walters.