Monday, May 2, 2011
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!