Monday, 13 February 2017

Review: Daddy-Long-Legs

Daddy-Long-Legs Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

*Spoiler Alert! Although as it was published in 1912 I think I've waited an appropriate amount of time.*
Daddy Long Legs, the wonderful literary classic, is told predominantly through one way letter correspondence from orphan Jerusha Adams to her anonymous benefactor whom she lovingly refers to as Daddy Long Legs. She calls him thus as she only knows three things about him:

  1. He's tall.
  2. He's rich.
  3. He hates girls.

So not to insult either herself or "Mr. Smith," she starts to cheekily refer to her guardian as Daddy Long Legs.
Make no mistake this is a very gradual romance. Of course at the end of the novel: surprise! As it turns out - her benefactor, Daddy Long Legs himself, is actually Jervis Pendleton, the uncle of a decidedly unlikeable school acquaintance. (Hey, this may very well be the first instance of cat fishing!)

First of all, I would be ridiculous to not acknowledge that each and every letter is incredibly endearing. Jerusha is unabashedly straightforward, and while still having the ideals and "ladylike" sensibilities as per the times (early 1900's), she is intelligent, humorous, and at times feisty.

This section of letter alone really says it all:
“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.It's the kind of character that I am going to develop. I am going to pretend that all life is just a game which I must play as skillfully and fairly as I can. If I lose, I am going to shrug my shoulders and laugh - also if I win.”

That is both incredibly inspiring and hilarious.
I could go on for days, but I'll spare you all.

(Side note: there is also a stage musical of the same name based on this novel. After having read the novel, I can attest to the fact that the musical is very faithful to the novel.)

"Completely and Irrevocably,
and world Without-End made up,
Jerusha Abbott"

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