Monday, May 2, 2011

Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster

Book Description:
First published in 1912, this is a modern version of "Cinderella", told in the form of letters. It is the love-story of an orphan and her unknown benefactor, written and illustrated by the great-niece of Mark Twain.

This was a wonderful book!  I wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone!  It was recommended to me a few years ago, and I could kick myself for taking so long to read it.  But I was in between kindle books and this is available as a free download, so I decided to give it a go.  I'm so glad I did, for the story warmed my heart and I fell in love with its captivating heroine and budding author Jerusha Abbott. 

Jerusha grew up in an orphanage. Now, at the age of eighteen, an anonymous benefactor, who is one of the orphanage's board members, chooses to send her to college after reading a sample of one of her essays.  Convinced she has talent, he pays for all her schooling, wardrobe and expenses for all four years.  The only condition is she must write him once a month to let him know how she is doing and what she is up to.

Jerusha is flabbergasted and grateful for the chance to go to college and enthusiastically pours her heart into the letters.  She doesn't just write one a month, she writes dozens! She nicknames her benefactor "Daddy Long Legs" because she once got a glimpse of his shadow that elongated his figure - hence the name.  Jerusha is a darling.  Her love for life is inspiring and she does indeed have a flair with pen and ink.  Her one disappointment is that no matter how many letters she writes to "Dear Daddy Long Legs" he never writes back.  It's a completely one sided relationship!  Jerusha goes through a mix of emotions towards him over the course of her four years.  At times she sad, curious and often miffed, but always deeply grateful that he has given her the opportunity to leave the orphanage and learn all the many different things college life can offer.

In Jerusha's (or Judy's as she begins to call herself) letters we discover the friends she's making at school.  Her closest friends are her roommates and one particularly snobbish young woman from New York City.  Miss Snob has a youngish  and very rich uncle who comes to visit the college from time to time and he and Judy become friends.  Coincidentally, they meet again when he visits the farm that Daddy Long Legs has arranged for Judy to stay at for the summer break.  It turns out the uncle grew up there in the summers.  All the while, Judy continues to faithfully write her letters, more than just once a month.  She is prolific!  She's probably written hundreds of letters - all with no response (except from her benefactor's secretary, who is the only contact Judy has ever known.)

Eventually, Judy's college time comes to an end and she has to make a decision with her life.  What is she to do?  She's falling in love with the rich uncle! He says he loves her too, but they come from different worlds and they quarrel and now she's afraid and confused over all of it.  What should she do?  She writes a desperate letter of help to Daddy Long Legs, asking for his advice.  He writes her back.  Finally after all these years.  He requests that she comes to New York to see him so they can talk.

Guess what happens when they meet?

Great, great book!  A happy ending that will bring tears to your eyes.  *sigh*  I simply loved it!  If I had read this book when I was a young teen I'd have considered it one of my favorites!  You know what?  Now that I'm older and (supposedly) wiser with a somewhat sophisticated eye on the world - I'd still consider it a favorite!   Do yourself a favor, get it, read it and enjoy!  Quick read, I read it in less than a day - pure pleasure!

Written in 1912, this is just as endearing today as I'm sure it was when it was first written. Loved it!


P.S. Coincidentally enough, I saw the 1950's movie with Fred Astaire and Leslie Caron years ago.  They changed the plot a bit and transformed Jerusha into a French orphan who goes to college in America.  They changed her name to Julie, and made her last name Andre instead of Abbott.  I always got a kick out of it because I have the same name - or rather, I did before I got married.  In several parts of the movie they're always calling her name out loud, "Julie Andre! Julie Andre!"  It sounded so funny to hear my name over and over again in a movie!   A bit of trivia, but big stuff for a thirteen year old!


Julia Rachel Barrett said...

Wow! Sounds amazing!

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

It was a wonderful book, I almost read it all in one sitting!

Yvette said...

I loved this book when I read it for the first time just a couple of years ago. Loved your reivew as well. Coincidentally we were talking about this book on my blog just this past week sometime. But I can't remember where or when. Oh well, suffice to say, I recommended it just as highly as you did. :)

P.S. I loved the movie as well. I feel like maybe I want to see it again really soon.

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Yvette, I started watching the movie right after I finished the book (it's available on demand with Netflix), but it seemed to Hollywoodized and dated to me and I still had my picture of Judy and Daddy Long Legs, I stopped watching it before long. Still, I do remember loving it when I was younger. Plus the song "Something's Gotta Give" is great in it!

Yvette said...

I loved this book when I first read it last year, Julie. I hadn't seen your great review until today. I'm always recommending this to anyone who'll listen. Just a lovely lovely book.

And, needless to say, I loved the Fred Astaire film as well. I feel like watching it again. This was the perfect story for them to appear together in a film - given their ages at the time.

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Yvette - better late than never! I'd love to see a remake of the movie for this book, and have it really well done, not a Hollywoodized version from the '50's. Albeit, it was good for it's time, it just seemed so dated to me, I'd like to see one done in the period this was written at the turn of the century (20th century!) That's a movie I'd love to see!

Yvette said...

Maybe sometime, somewhere someone will film it in just that way, Julie.

I see I posted twice on the same topic, same book. Didn't see my earlier post so I thought I was posting for the first time. Jeez. I am getting old and older and foggier-brained and foggier-brained.

Oh well, I meant well. Ha!

I tried looking for a book you reviewed THE SPARE - when I was in Wal-Mart the other night. They didn't have it. Neither does my library. I'll have to pick it up online. Haven't forgotten it. YET. :)

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Yvette, sorry I haven't been able to post on my own site lately (blogger problems!), but don't worry about posting twice! LOL! You can get the Spare on PBS Swap, or maybe you'll win my giveaway!

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