Daddy Long-Legs by Jean Webster (reread)

Daddy Long-Legs by Jean Webster (reread)Daddy Long-Legs (reread) (Daddy Long-Legs #1) by Jean Webster
Published: Girlebooks (1912), eBook, 249pg
Source: Public Domain
Genres: Classic, Fiction, 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. (from Girlebooks)

Probably there are some spoilers here! Just fyi.

The first time I read this I was all grossed out by both the age difference between the two leads AND by the deceitfulness of Daddy Long-Legs himself– I’m just not into that whole “I am secretly dating you but you don’t know it, haha” thing. (It’s why I have a hard time watching You’ve Got Mail, despite its amazing New York-in-the-fall-ness.)

This time around, though, I was (almost) totally fine with it! And here’s why: I really, really hate the 1955 movie version. I tried watching it a few months ago, and despite my love for Fred Astaire I just can’t STAND THE MOVIE.


And so, as it turns out, that hatred made me love the book EVEN MORE! (If that’s even possible.) Letters! Dancing! Funny things and excellent writing and also romance! Yay! Almost everything that skeeved me out about the book the first time I read it was washed over with warm fuzzy feelings, and it turned into a v. nice reading experience.

Also, this time around I knew that, while I had a problem with DLL, Judy had no such problem and in fact thought it was pretty romantic. I suppose I’ve gotten better at allowing characters to have their own opinions about things that may be different from my own– it helps, too, that the deception didn’t come from a bad place. Like, his intentions were good, I guess? And so that mellowed my own reaction towards the whole thing.1

The age difference problem just got sucked under all the other stuff, so it was no big deal. Surprising, eh? But my second reading of Daddy Long-Legs was a lot more fun than the first time (though I still enjoyed it back then, too), and now I really want to read Dear Enemy.

Read: June 19-22, 2013


  1. Unlike in You’ve Got Mail, where they hate each other and he KNOWS she hates him, and he put her out of business (basically)!, and he tries to secretly woo her anyway. Major side-eye.

6 thoughts on “Daddy Long-Legs by Jean Webster (reread)”

  1. Daddy Long-Legs is one of my all-time favorites! I read it as a child and didn’t even notice that there was so much of an age gap between Judy and Jarvis, I just thought it was the pinnacle of romance! I loved Judy’s hilarious letters and college antics and falling in love with “Master Jervie” at the farm. I did, however, read the sequel Dear Enemy as a an adult, and even though I came to love it EVEN MORE than DLL, I was not quite as blind to its faults. You should try Dear Enemy, too!

  2. Okay, just a REAL QUICK warning flag about Dear Enemy: Jean Webster was into eugenics a little bit? Or, like, kind of a lot. And that shows up in Dear Enemy, and it’s pretty awful if you take even a very short amount of time to think about it. It is still a dear charming book in its way, but do be aware of this eugenics thing going in, because otherwise I fear it will spoil the book for you.

    1. Well, that’s disappointing! Although I know a lot of otherwise nice people were into eugenics in that period before WWII, it’s still pretty…ugh. Thanks for letting me know, though! You’re totally right, it would have ruined the book for me.

  3. It’s so weird – I just watched this movie for the first time last week. It’s been in my Netflix queue forever. I didn’t know it was a book.

    I love musicals, I love Fred Astaire. I used to love May-December romances (though the shine has kind of worn off of those for me the older I get 🙂 ). However, the age difference between the characters and the actors in RL (Astaire was 54, Caron 24) skeeved me out and I ended up skipping to the end of the movie and then just turning it off. LOL – guess that is a DNF movie? 🙂

    1. I can mostly ignore FA’s age difference with his costars because he almost never looked the right one anyway, but yeah, still kinda skeevy. He’s old enough to be her father! Ew.

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