Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster

Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster
Published 1912
Source: downloaded from Librivox

From an orphanage to college, Jerusha, or Judy, Abbott hopes to continue her education, but has no funds. When an anonymous benefactor offers to finance her studies, Judy accepts. Her witty letters to this generous man may bring her closer to knowing his identity than she expects.

My Thoughts:
It seems I read this as a young girl - fond memories of a book by this title about an orphan and a mysterious benefactor float about in the recesses of my mind. I was delighted to find that this book is every bit a charming and whimsical as I, if ever so vaguely, remember it being.

Webster, niece of Mark Twain, tells Jerusha's story entirely through Jerusha's monthly letters to her mysterious benefactor, who prefers to be known only as Mr. Smith. But Jerusha, who catches only a glimpse of his shadow, prefers to refer to him as Daddy Long Legs in her four years of letters to him. From her early days at college when she feels alone and woefully undereducated to her triumphant graduation as one of the school's leaders, Jerusha writes about everything from clothes, theater, books, her first trip to New York City, her summers on a farm, her political thoughts and her growing feelings for a certain Jervis Pendleton. Readers will catch on fairly early to Daddy Long Legs' true identity but it takes nothing away from the story.

Two problems with listening to the Librivox version of this book: readers don't get to see the many drawings, also by Webster, that Jerusha includes in her letters and the multiple narrators. With Librivox, volunteer readers read chapters, not whole books. Some of them are really very good. Others are not as good. Still, it's free and at least when the reader is not as good, there is always hope for the next chapter!

Another book I highly recommend moms and young daughters enjoy together!

Leslie Caron, center, in the movie adaptation by the same name

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