Monday, August 16, 2010

For Review: Daddy-Long-Legs ~ Jean Webster

Jershua Abbott spent her childhood in an orphanage and looked likely to spend her adult life likewise when she was chosen by a trustee to go to a college for young women. At 17 she embarks on an education she could only have dreamt of before, suddenly immersed into a world of the middle-class and their pre-occupations with clothes and leisure. However, she's not to know her trustee's name but is requested to write to him to give details of her progress. Daddy-Long-Legs, as she nicknames him, is given a series of letters through which this story is told.

Perhaps it's supposed to be part of her upbringing, but there's something impertinent and not entirely likeable about Jershua. In some ways she seems to have that Tracy Beaker rebellion going on. Despite being overly wilfull in her ways, there's also something endearing about her. Jershua (re-named Judy) grows into a refined young lady over the course of her education, yet she remains independent both of creativity and thought. As the novel progresses, so do her letters. There's an obvious development through the stages from nervous orphan to intelligent woman.

However, despite being a strong and independent woman of her time (book written 1913), she is still flattered by gifts and money. More to the point, though she claims that literature is her great love, she is only fully satisfied by marriage. Grr. The ending is ridiculously obvious (again, a novel of its time) but that doesn't spoil the novel. Just don't expect any great twists. The ending is thoroughly frustrating and I was quite fuming in suffragette mode by the end (which is highly unusual for me). It was a cute little read, all the same. After all, what girl doesn't want spoiled with jewellery, silk and flowers?

Read 08 August, to and from Hameln (home of the pied piper).