Friday, September 14, 2012

Flashback Friday: Daddy-Long-Legs

I have decided every Friday to highlight a book I read a long time ago.  Most of the books I've posted about have either a) come out in the last little bit or b) I just read in the last month, but there are so many other amazing books that I have enjoyed over the years. Thus I have created Flashback Friday, where each week I will review a book from back in the day. This week is the inimitable Daddy-Long-Legs.

Jerusha Abbott has grown up in the John Grier Home for orphans. As the oldest, she is in charge of the younger children. An anonymous benefactor on the Board, "Mr. Smith," decides to send her to college, as long as she writes to him faithfully detailing her education. Through a series of letters Jerusha writes to "Daddy-Long-Legs," a relationship filled with affection and respect develops . . .  

 Originally published in 1912, Jean Webster's coming-of-age tale continues to be relevant to young women today.  Quoted from Goodreads


I love, love, love this book.  The author is funny, descriptive, and created in Judy an amazing character.  I don't usually like books written in letter form, but this one really is absolutely amazing. Case in point, I picked up this book before I started this review to read a couple of key scenes and re-associate myself with the writing style, main character, etc. I couldn't put it down.  Seriously, there is a little voice inside my head that keeps whispering, "Write later. Read now." And the really pathetic part about it all is that I re-read this book about three months ago.  Yes, three months!  So it hasn't even been very long since I last read it.  That is how good it is.

First there is Judy, the poor orphan who is fortunate enough to be sent to collage by the mysterious "Mr. Smith," aka Daddy-Long-Legs.  She is hilarious.  Her letters are so full of life and humor you can't help but fall in love with her. Plus, she was an orphan, stuck in a home with very limited exposure to the outside world, which makes her voice perfect for reading today.  Everything is a new, fresh adventure the reader gets to experience with her.

Then there is the setting.  I realize that this book actually was written as a contemporary piece of fiction, but since it was first written 100 years ago exactly, it serves more as a window to the past. I love the feeling of what life was like back then.  I mean, the Titanic sunk, World War I was on the horizon, and everything was changing.  This is a look at the small, daily life of one person.  It's fun to see the differences between college now and college then, the attitudes of people, and little details that are taken for granted in the book and utterly foreign to me now.  It's better even then historical fiction, because it isn't someone today imposing what they think on the past.  It's absolutely genuine.

Plus there is romance.  I know that is important to some people, so I want to reassure you. It is quite sweet watching Judy fall in love.

This book is absolutely 5 stars.  It is one of those books I have read a dozen times, and I still love it. If you like Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, or Little House on the Prairie, this is an absolutely must read.  Here's a quote from the book just to give you a taste of how amazing it is.

When I think about you, my imagination has very little to work upon. There are just three things that I know:
       I. You are tall.
      II. You are rich.
     III. You hate girls.
I suppose I might call you Dear Mr. Girl-Hater. Only that's sort of insulting to me. Or. Dear Mr. Rich-Man, but that's insulting you you, as though money were the only important thing about you. Besides, being rich is such a very external quality. Maybe you won't stay rich all your life; lots of very cleaver men get smashed up in Wall Street. But at least you will stay tall all your life! So I've decided to call you Dear Daddy-Long-Legs. I hope you won't mind. It's just a private pet name---we won't tell Mrs. Lippett.

P.S. There are 150 different versions of this book on Goodreads, and you can look at all the different covers, yet they don't have the cover that is sitting next to me. Neither does Google Images. It's very aggravating.

P.P.S. Fun fact about Jean Webster.  She is actually Mark Twain's niece.  Great writing obviously runs in the family.

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