02 April, 2018

#DDSRecommends - Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster

Originally, Aniesha Brahma @ Buzz Magazine asked me to start a weekly feature for her magazine called DDS Recommends. I do love recommending books to fellow bookworms, and so I decided to start a thread on my own blog as well. In this thread, I will occasionally share a book that I have enjoyed and would like to recommend to others. 


 Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster

 Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster

I have read this book a fair number of times. It is on of my go-to books when I need quick cheering up. Here's the official blurb of the book:

Young Judy Abbott has been saved from life at the orphanage by a generous--and anonymous--guardian. He will pay for her education if she promises to write to him every month. Judy writes the most exuberant and lively letters--packed with laughs, and tales of friendship and college life. Judy's having so much fun she can scarcely stop writing...

You can find the book on Goodreads or Amazon

Daddy-Long-Legs is an epistolary novel, where our protagonist Miss Jerusha Abbott a.k.a Judy is an orphan whose school assignment catches the attention of a rich benefactor. This rich benefactor, who wishes to remain anonymous, decides to sponsor Jerusha's education with just one condition - that Jerusha writes regular letters to him with updates. And she does write those letters. Regularly. She describes her life and dreams to her benefactor through those letters.

Jerusha Abbott is a smart young woman who dreams of becoming an author someday. Her letters are soulful... They are often funny and sarcastic too. Through these letters, the readers can get to know not only about her life, but feel her as well. Her enthusiasm for life is infectious. There's this one quote from the book that has stayed with me since the first time I read it:

“It isn't the big troubles in life that require character. Anybody can rise to a crisis and face a crushing tragedy with courage, but to meet the petty hazards of the day with a laugh - I really think that requires spirit."

The book is an interesting read mostly because of Jerusha's wit. Her letters read like conversation and they are mostly light and funny. Her attitude towards life is quite inspiring. She never forgets where she comes from (an orphanage), appreciates the opportunity that she has been given and looks forward to a brighter future that she is intent on making for herself.

There are two aspects to the story here. The first and most important one is that it is a coming-of-age novel where Jerusha grows up and steps into the world.The other aspect is romance. Yep! there is some... though only a little and towards the very end. I enjoyed the coming-of-age angle much much more. The first time I read this book, I did not agree with the romantic element or the ending. I wished for a completely different ending, but it has grown on me over the years.

The popular opinion about this book is that it is an ‘anti-feminist fairy tale’ and I heartily disagree to it. Jerusha is fiercely independent and is not afraid to stand up (or turn down) to her benefactor's demands when they made no sense to her. She fights when she wants to go on a trip that her benefactor doesn't approve of. She secures a scholarship for herself so that she can fund her own education... We must also keep in mind that this book was first published in 1912 (so definitely written then or before) - at a time when women did not even have the power to vote. So, to have written a character like Jerusha, the author was ahead of her times.

Pick this book up if you like strong female characters and coming-of-age novels.

Have you already read this book? What did you think of it?

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