Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster

Daddy Long Legs by Jean WebsterDaddy Long-Legs (Daddy-Long-Legs #1) by Jean Webster
Published: Girlebooks (1912), eBook, 249pg
Source: Public Domain
Genres: Fiction, Humor, Romance

First published in 1912, this young adult novel is comprised mostly of letters from orphan Jerusha "Judy" Abbott to her anonymous benefactor whom she names "Daddy Long Legs". The letters chronicle her departure from the orphanage through four years of college. Judy makes new friends, slowly gains knowledge and independence, but also struggles with her humble past and unfixed future.

I love this book. And like all books I love, I’m having a hard time actually writing a coherent and, I hope, persuasive review. Oh, the irony. I love this book to BITS and yet how do I convince y’all to read it and love it as well?

So, okay– I can’t convince you to love it, but can I convince you to read it? Let’s give it a shot.

The author

Here’s what I love about Daddy Long-Legs:
1. It’s funny! It’s delightfully snarky, especially about woman’s place in society during that time. The humor almost reminds me of Cold Comfort Farm, with the subtle prodding at irritating things.
2. It’s so well written! Look at this, for instance:

It seems to me that a man who can think straight along for forty-seven years without changing a single idea ought to be kept in a cabinet as a curiosity. I hope he is enjoying his harp and golden crown; he was so perfectly sure of finding them! There’s a new young man, very consequential, in his place. The congregation is pretty dubious, especially the faction led by Deacon Cummings. It looks as though there was going to be an awful split in the church. We don’t care for innovations in religion in this neighbourhood. (somewhere)

3. The characters are great! I loved all of them, but especially Judy, who is a real firecracker (somewhat along the lines of Jo from Little Women). She’s intelligent and lovable and independent-minded and I adore her.

From start to finish, I had a great time with Daddy Long Legs, and I want to thank whoever it was that wrote about it first. I don’t have you down in my TBR wishlist for some reason, but it was definitely a book blogger and I’m forever in your debt, whoever you are. (Probably it was Jenny, now that I think about it. Thank you, Jenny!)

My only niggle? While I liked the happy ending and the romance, it did creep me out a little. It’s like the situation in You’ve Got Mail, if you’ve seen that? Where it’s sort of romantic and YAY, the couple got together at the end. But how they got together, with Tom Hanks knowing all about Meg Ryan without her knowing anything about him, except what he wanted her to know…if you think about it– it’s a little creepy. Yes/no? Maybe it’s just another weird thing I have, like with large age differences between love interests (which this book has as well, but it didn’t bother me as much as it normally does).

Read: January 16, 2011

There’s four film adaptations of Daddy Long Legs (including one with Shirley Temple). I may just have to watch all of them. Yes.

17 thoughts on “Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster”

  1. I read this book last year for the Spring read-a-thon, and giving it back to the library afterwards was SO HARD. I did not want to part with its lovely self. But now I keep forgetting to buy my own copy. What’s with that?

    I watched the 1955 adaptation, the one with Fred Astaire, and the romance creeped me out more in that than in the book. I think it was more the age difference than the fact that she knew nothing of him. But now that I think about that aspect, that’s pretty creepy too.

    And it was Ana who convinced me to read this 🙂

    1. I really want to see the Fred Astaire version, mostly because FA didn’t age, like AT ALL until nearly the end of his life, so it’s easy to forget how old he actually was in some of his movies (especially when compared to the leading ladies’ ages). So I really want to see how that handle that whole thing. 😀

  2. You’ve convinced me 🙂

    And oh, the pressure of trying to get people to read and love a book like you did. I often procrastiante on writing the reviews of books I loved the longest, it is so hard to express your feelings correctly.

    1. Yay, I’m so glad! 😀 And yeah, that’s why I’ve procrastinate so long on some of my reviews for favorite books. Sometimes it’s just too hard!

  3. You are welcome! I am glad you liked it! I convinced Ana to read it and now every time someone reads it on her recommendation, I feel like it is all because of me. :p

    I read this when I was a kid, and all grown-ups were basically old to me, so the romance didn’t squiff me out then, and by the time I grew up I was already used to it. But yeah, it is a bit weird.

    1. I’m a bit surprised on how little I was weirded out by the age difference in this one, especially since I was SO weirded out by the age difference in Fire & Hemlock and I don’t think that one’s nearly as big as this one. I mean, it still twinged, but it wasn’t nearly as big a deal as with some other couples/books/etc. Maybe because Judy never describes HIM as an actually old dude (sort of. Trying to stay away from spoilers, here, although it’s v. difficult), unlike Polly who made me think Tom was, like, 60 or something when we first met him.

      (Also I think the cover of my version of F&H is horrible; it REALLY makes Tom look like a properly old man instead of just an adult. If that’s even supposed to be Tom; now I’m not sure.)

  4. Dear, I’m really for bothering you like this with repititive questions, but then how did you guess that their age difference is around twenty years?Thanks

    1. Er, I know this is super-old but I came across it while searching so thought I’d reply anyway. They’re 14 years apart, which I believe at the end of the novel puts them at ages 21 and 35.

      “I wish I could make you understand what he is like and how entirely companionable we are. We think the same about everything—I am afraid I have a tendency to make over my ideas to match his! But he is almost always right; he ought to be, you know, for he has fourteen years’ start of me.”

      (I thought I remembered it being fourteen years, so opened up the story on Project Gutenberg and just searched for “fourteen”)

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