Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster




Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster


Review by Natalie Smith, our new regular contributor

I found Daddy-Long-Legs in a paperback reprint on the shelf of the YA section of my library – and loved it so much that ten years later I special-ordered copy and ended up with a second edition, published in 1912! Daddy-Long-Legs begins on the first Wednesday of the month, the day on which The Trustees visit the John Grier Home. It’s an orphanage where Jerusha Abbot lives with ninety-six other children, but she’s seventeen and on the brink of being thrust out into the world, and doesn’t quite know what will become of her. One of The Trustees is a philanthropist, and after reading an essay she’d written about “Blue Wednesday”, decides to send her to college to become a great writer.

The first chapter of this story is told in third person, but the rest of it is a compilation of all the letters Judy, as she decides to call herself, sends to her benefactor, whom she decides to call “Daddy-Long-Legs”. The letters are rich and full of all the innocence and excitement that comes of being seventeen in this era, and from being free for the first time in her life from her usual duties to the John Grier Home. Taking care of one person is considerably easier than taking care of eleven small children – and Judy really enjoys almost every aspect of her independent college life.

Some of my favorite things about this sweet book are the way I learned so much about the historical time period through the things Judy writes, and the similarities between my own college experience and Judy’s. There are about ninety years between Judy’s college days and my own, and while there were definitely some things that haven’t endured the years, overall I found more similarities between fictional Judy and real-life me than I was expecting.

I recommend this book to ANYONE who enjoys Anne. It’s much faster-paced, but the tone is very similar to L.M. Montgomery. And if you don’t know who Anne is (heaven forbid!), you should read her, too!

8 Comments:

Paige Y. said...

I really loved this book! I also loved its sequel called Dear Enemy. It's set at the orphanage Judy grew up in and the main character is her college friend Sally. There are one or two places where it is obvious that our views on disabled people have changed (there's a place were Sally calls some of her children "defective") but such opinions were the norm at the time the book was written.

joelandnatalie said...

Hurray! I've never even thought that Jean Webster might have written another -- thanks for the information.

Laura H said...

I read this book on your recommendation and really enjoyed it. It does have and "Anne" feel to it. I love this kind of book. Any other books like this come to mind.

Connie Onnie said...

Did you know that there is a musical loosely based on the book, it even has the same name? With Fred Astair & Leslie Caron, I have not read the book so I can not tell you how they compare my guess is not a whole lot.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daddy_Long_Legs_(film)

Ms. Yingling said...

I remember liking this as a student but being rather disturbed by the older man being interested in the school girl as I got older. I am reluctant to recommend it to students. Perhaps I should reread it.

Little Willow said...

Though I liked the basic concept of this book, even as a child, I was disturbed that she ended up romantically involved with her father figure.

Anonymous said...

I read this book and I didn't really like it. Actually, I thought it was quite bad.

Melissa said...

I Love this book! I found it when I was in high school, and bought it later as an adult for my own home library! The sequel is good as well.

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