Friday, March 13, 2020

"Daddy-Long-Legs" by Jean Webster (again)

This is such a perfectly chummy book!  I'm glad that @shapedbystoriesdiane and @ahatforeveryread chose it for this month's #KindredSpiritsNetwork group read on Instagram -- I can't wait to discuss it with everyone there!  It was so delightful to reread it, a perfect pick-me-up in the midst of a fairly hectic month.

Judy Abbott is an orphan with few hopes for the future, but endowed with a sparkling wit and fierce intelligence.  One of the trustees of the orphanage where she grew up offers to anonymously send her to college, with the stipulation that she must write him regularly about her progress.  This book is almost entirely composed of her letters to him -- she calls him Daddy-Long-Legs because all she's seen of him, as far as she knows, is his shadow on the wall, elongated and stretched by the setting sun.  The letters are sprinkled throughout with funny little drawings, one of which got used for the cover of this edition.  (It also contains the sequel, Dear Enemy.

The drawings are funny, but the letters are even funnier -- this is one of those books where I chuckle out loud while reading it.  (And then my family demands to know what's so funny and interrupt my reading, but oh well.)  Judy Abbott's fish-out-of-water perspective on college, the lives of the rich girls around her, and knowledge are purely delightful.  There's also a bit of a love story, not a sappy or sugary one, that I quite like.

Also, all of these letters really feel like actual letters!  I never have to suspend disbelief over this book because none of them get that "nobody would write this scene out in detail like this in a letter" thing going on that some epistolary novels do.  So if you tend to dislike books composed of letters for that reason, don't avoid this one, because it neatly avoids that issue!

Particularly Good Bits:

Speaking of classics, have you ever read "Hamlet"?  If you haven't, do it right off.  It's perfectly corking.  I've been hearing about Shakespeare all my life, but I had no idea he really wrote so well; I always suspected him of going largely on his reputation (p. 62).

You know, Daddy, I think that the most necessary quality for any person to have is imagination.  It makes people able to put themselves in other people's places.  It makes them kind and sympathetic and understanding.  It ought to be cultivated in children (p. 70).

The world is full of happiness, and plenty to go round, if you are only willing to take the kind that comes your way (p. 85).

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  G.  Clean, light, fun, and pure.

7 comments:

  1. Oh, I have a copy of this and have been meaning to read it for forever! I'll have to make time for it, soon. That quote about Shakespeare is hilarious!

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    1. MC, it's perfect for a light spring read! You will have such fun with it.

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  2. Oh, I love this book. I have it on my shelves (in my attic?) and I am going to find it and read it this week. Just the escape from reality I need.

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    1. Jennifer, yes! It was exactly the antidote to crazy reality I needed.

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  3. I loved this book, chummy is such a good word for it.

    I think it's a bit further out than this year in my rereads spacing though.

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    1. Livia, do you mean you space out your re-reads of this book? Or that you plan all your re-reads out far in advance? I'm so curious now!

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    2. I was sort of spacing them out randomly for a while, but I've recently seemed to mainly been reading for escapism/relaxation and was afraid I'd start rereading until I hated the books. So I made an excel list (yeah, really, I do that with a lot of things) of my favorites and tried to generally space them out 4-5 years. Most of them did end up on this year but I'm probably not going to get to them, so they will be bumped to next year. I then divided them by seasons so I would have ones to fit the season and not binge them all at once. These I have listed on my 2020 reading blog page.

      This sounds really regimented but it's not. I'm not following it as a must (especially since JA doesn't fall this year, but I'm in the mood for them, so I'll probably read them). I'm sort of trying to spread out my desserts so to speak.

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