Dust off your Classics : Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster

August 29, 2014 Book review, Dust off Your Classics 2 ★★★★½

 

Once upon a time there were two girls who wanted to read Classics.  But they were afraid, a little intimidated and needed encouragement so they bonded together to form the Dust off your Classics challenge to support each other.  Dee from Dee Read’s and myself read our way through some good classics, some great classics and found so much in these books that is surprisingly still relevant.  So much so that I want to continue reading them and will continue to share my thoughts here on any I get through.

 

Dust off your Classics : Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean WebsterDaddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster
Published by Century Company on 1912
Genres: Classic, Emotions & Feelings, Young Adult
Pages: 185
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Freebie
Goodreads
four-half-stars

First published in 1912, this young adult novel is comprised mostly of letters from orphan Jerusha "Judy" Abbott to her anonymous benefactor whom she names "Daddy Long Legs". The letters chronicle her departure from the orphanage through four years of college. Judy makes new friends, slowly gains knowledge and independence, but also struggles with her humble past and unfixed future.

A trustee of the John Grier orphanage has offered to send Judy Abbott to college. The only requirements are that she must write to him every month, and that she can never know who he is. Judy's life at college is a whirlwind of friends, classes, parties, and a growing friendship with the handsome Jervis Pendleton. With so much happening in her life, Judy can scarcely stop writing to the mysterious "Daddy-Long-Legs"!

My Thoughts on Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster

This book was such a pleasant read and I’m a bit shocked that I’ve never read it previously.  I adore classic coming of age books like this so it’s been a long overdue read for me.  I did know the story before I read it as I saw it in a play many years ago.  Judy grew up in an orphanage but just as she comes to the age where she would be expected to leave and fend for herself, she gets an unexpected surprise.  An unknown benefactor sponsors her to attend college and her only pay back is that she has to write to him once a month

After this short introduction, the remainder of the book is all the letters sent by Judy to her backer.  I loved the format of the book as I love nosing at letters!  But beyond that it is hard not to be charmed by Judy.   As an aspiring author she has a ready pen and a wicked wit.   She captures a vibrancy of youth and is equal parts feisty, funny and determined.  It is impossible to read this book and not to have your mood uplifted. Plus how can I not love someone who thinks this:

I look forward all day to evening, and then I put an ‘engaged’ on the door and get into my nice red bath robe and furry slippers and pile all the cushions behind me on the couch, and light the brass student lamp at my elbow, and read and read and read one book isn’t enough. I have four going at once.” – I hear you Judy!

I love her optimism and her way of making the most of every single moment of her opportunity.  However I also love that she doesn’t feel over humbled by the scholarship.  Judy works hard but also plays hard and gets the full college experience.  In a way, this book is New Adult as it is about a girl making her way in life and a lot of her feelings about becoming a fully fledged adult will be as recognisable today as they were when the book was written.

The plot is predicable. Once you are reading it, it becomes very clear who Daddy-Long-Legs really is.  But this only adds to the enjoyment of the book as it’s funny just who Judy is pouring her heart out to unbeknownst to herself.  The little shades of romance to the book are minor but quite heart-warming.  I enjoy that it’s not really a romance though, it’s just about a college girl and all that entails.

There is a lot in the book about making the most of now and as someone who loves the book The Power of Now, I wasn’t any stranger to any of this philosophy as I fully believe in it.  So it struck me as funny when I realised that this book was published some 80 years before that book.  I found Daddy-Long-Legs a hugely inspiring book and I know it’s one I’ll return to in the future.

So you might be wondering why if I love it so much, it’s not 5 stars.  I just found that as lovely as it was, the plot wasn’t intricate enough for me to rate it as highly as others in the same genre such as Little Women, What Katy Did or Anne of Green Gables.  Daddy-Long-Legs was great but just not in the same class as these others in my opinion.  But still a lovely, feel-good read and I know I’ll be purchasing a paperback copy as  it’s one I want to have on my shelves.

Rating Report
Characters
four-half-stars
Setting
four-stars
Pace
four-stars
Did I feel it?
four-half-stars
Overall: four-stars


Who should read Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster?

I’d highly recommend this to all who enjoy classic books such as Little Women or Anne of Green Gables; if you like Jo or Anne, then I think you’ll love Judy too.  I’d also recommend this to anyone who wants to read classics but are afraid of being bored or bogged down by weighty tombs; you’ll find this one is an easy read and it sparkles with life  and simple wisdom.

 

four-half-stars

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2 Responses to “Dust off your Classics : Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster”

    • trish

      I hadn’t read any since Persuasion which I never got around to writing about. But I might yet.
      I’d like to read 1 a month so maybe 3 or 4 by 31 Dec. I have missed them as they do add variety to my reading menu 🙂 Looking forward to your posts!

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