Monday, April 29, 2013

A Review of Daddy Long Legs and Dear Enemy

So some dear correspondents of mine suggested I read "Daddy Long Legs" by Jean Webster. It sounded vaguely familiar, so I  dug through the book shelf and unearthed my copy. I am so glad they reminded me of it! I finished the dear book in a day or so! I marked some of my favorite quotes and witticisms, which were scattered like rose petals throughout the book. There is also a little love story, which always makes me happy. :)

As you can see by my beginning, I very much enjoyed the book. It was written in 1912. It is an epistolary book, made up of letters to a certain Daddy Long Legs, the eccentric trustee who decided to give an orphaned Jerusha Abbott a college education. The only requirements he has are these: to train to be an author and to write him a letter once a month, describing her activities and schooling.
And so it begins: Miss Judy goes from the grimy little John Grier home to to a nice all-girls college. And she has so much to write to Daddy Long Legs, as she had dubbed the trustee, about!
There are also some whimsical drawings Miss Judy Abbott sends with her letters. These made me laugh out loud sometimes!

This is supposed to be a picture of the trustee, Daddy Long Legs. Judy christens him that when she sees his shadow at the John Grier Home.

Here is one of Judy's monthly updates! Isn't it funny?

This goes along with a little story Judy was telling about her dorm... Finally, to finish up the little illustrations, I will post Judy's picture of a daddy long legs!
 Judy and her friends have so many little adventures and funny stories to tell. Then there's Julia Pendleton, Judy's frenemy and dorm mate part of the book. She's something else. Her uncle, Jervis, is lovely though and catches Judy's attention....  but that is ALL I will say about that!

Finally, here come the quotations and witticisms:

"Maybe you won't stay rich all your life; lots of very clever men get smashed up in Wall Street. But at least you will stay tall all your life! So I've decided to call you Dear Daddy-Long-Legs. I hope you don't mind. It's just a private pet name we won't tell Mrs. Lippett." (Mrs. Lippett is the strict "jail guard" of the orphanage.)

"I love college and I love you for sending me-I'm very, very happy, and so excited every moment of the time that I can scarcely sleep." Isn't that a nice outlook? I think so. And I must follow up with the rest of it because I like it, "You (Daddy Long Legs) can't imagine how different it is from the John Grier Home. I never dreamed there was such a place in the world. I'm feeling sorry for everybody who isn't a girl and who can't come here; I am sure the college you attended when you were a boy couldn't have been so nice."

"Usually Freshmen can't get singles; they are very scarce, but I got one without even asking. I suppose the registrar didn't think it would be right to ask a properly brought-up girl to room with a foundling. You see there are advantages!" This made me smile. :)

"'I'm so homesick that I simply can't stand it. Do you feel that way?' (said Sallie McBride) I smiled a little and said no; I thought I could pull through. At least homesickness is one disease that I've escaped! I never hear d of anybody being asylum-sick, did you?" And by the way Judy described it, I doubt anyone ever had been.

"Julia and I were born to be enemies." I was glad someone else had felt that way sometime in their life too.

When Judy is talking about not fitting in at school , and wearing the ugly Home dresses, she writes to Daddy Long Legs about the girls who talked and stared. She obviously disliked them, but then she goes on to talk about the others... "And then a few charitable ones would make a point of coming up and saying something polite. I HATED EVERY ONE OF THEM- the charitable ones most of all." Which quite makes sense to me.

"I forgot to post this yesterday, so I will add an indignant postscript. We had a bishop this morning and WHAT DO YOU THINK HE SAID? 'The most beneficent promise made us in the Bible is this, 'The poor ye have always with you.' They were put here in order to keep us charitable.' The poor, please observe, being a sort of useful domestic animal. If I hadn't grown into such a perfect lady, I should have gone up after service and told him what I thought." I'm not saying you should agree, but I thought this was an interesting perspective.

"Julia Pendleton tried for the team, but she didn't get in. Hooray! You see what a mean disposition I have." This made me laugh. Dear Judy! And she follows up with a cheerful little bit about college, showing what a NICE disposition she has. :)

"I look forward all day to evening, and then I put and 'engaged'on the door and get into my nice red bath robe and furry slippers and pile all the cushions behind me on the couch, and light the brass student lamp at my elbow and rad and read; one book isn't enough. I have four going at once." Now that sounds like a kindred spirit, doesn't it?

"It's awfully hard for me not to tell everything I know. I'm a very confiding soul by nature; if I didn't have you to tell things to, I'd burst." Only too true, m'dears.

"P.S. Maybe it isn't proper to send love? If it isn't, please excuse. But I must love somebody and there's only you and Mrs. Lippett to choose between, so you see-you'll have to put up with it, Daddy dear, because I can't love her."

"I might, very usefully, put some time on Latin tonight but, there's no doubt about it, I'm a very languid Latin scholar." I know only too well the trials of the Latin language! Horrid stuff!

"Yesterday evening just towards dark, when I was sitting up in bed looking out at the rain and feeling awfully bored with life in a great institution, the nurse appeared with a long white box addressed to me, and filled with the LOVELIEST pink rosebuds. Ans much nicer still, it contained a card with a very polite message written in a funny little uphill back hand (but which shows a great deal of character). Thank you, Daddy, a thousand times. Your flowers make the first real, true present I ever received in my life. If you want to know what a baby I am I  laid down and cried because I was so happy." Isn't that just bitter-sweet. The poor dear cried!

"The only thing that keeps me from starting a collection (of toads) is that fact that no rule exists against it." hehe

"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." Very, very true.

"It seems he glanced at her (Julia) when she was a baby, decided he didn't like her, and has never noticed her since." HAHA dear Uncle Jervis :)

"Oh, I tell you, Daddy, when we women get our rights, you men will have to look alive in order to keep yours.":)

"But Julia hadn't a bit of tact; and men, I find, require a great deal.They purr if you rub them the right way and spit if you don't. (That isn't a very elegant metaphor. I mean it figuratively.)"

"You know, Daddy, I think that the most necessary quality for any person t 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..... I don't think children ought to know the meaning of the word (duty); it's odious, detestable. They ought to do everything from love."

"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." Hehe ;)

"Mrs. Semple, to tell you the truth, gets rather monotonous. She never lets any ideas interrupt the easy flow of her conversation." Goodness, how I know the feeling!

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

"To bring a man into line, there are just two methods: one must either coax or be disagreeable."

"Don't you think I'd make an admirable voter if I had my rights? I was twenty-one last week. This is an awfully wasteful country to throw away such an honest, educated, conscientious, intelligent citizen as I would be."

"Whereas a women-whether she is interested in babies or microbes or gardens or Plato or bridge- is fundamentally and always interested in clothes." True!

"The only way I can ever repay you is by turning out to be a Very Useful Citizen (Are women citizens? i don't suppose they are.) Anyway, a Very Useful Person. and when you look at me you can say, 'I gave that Very Useful Person to the world.'"

Now, if you go through all those quotations! I didn't think I had so many. But aren't they nice? Now, on to Dear Enemy. It is by the same author, Jean Webster, but it is about Judy's friend, Sallie McBride. Sallie, now out of college, is a young, naive, belle. She is well off and enjoys dancing and frivolous things. She also has a thing going with a young, outspoken politician.

All this is put to a stop though when Judy begs her friend to be the new caretaker of the John Grier Home! Now Sallie is in charge of 113 youngsters, a. orphanage that needs a makeover, and a short tempered doctor! This book is also epistolary and Dear Enemy refers to the doctor. The letters are to her beau, the politician, Judy, and her "Enemy" the doctor.

Here are some of Sallie's illustrations:


Here are some of its quotes and witticisms:

"He (the doctor) says he does not wish to be regarded as an enemy. He is not in the least antagonistic-so long as I mold my policy upon his wishes!"

"I don't know yet whether the children are going to love me or not, but they DO love my dog." Ah, that's how it goes.

This was sweet.
"I remain, the ever-distracted mother of 113. S. McB."

"And also, no matter what the doctor wants, so positive and dictatorial is his manner that just out of self-respect one must take the other side. When he states that the world is round, I instantly assert it to be triangular." haha

"Aren't men funny? When the want to pay the greatest complement in their power, they naively tell you that you have a masculine mind. There is one compliment, incidentally, that I shall never be paying him."

"The more I study men, the more I realize that they are nothing in the world but boys grown too spankable." HAHAHA

"I must tell you what happened this morning. Our trustee, who has had a dangerous illness, is now dangerously well again, and dropped in to pay a neighborly call." Haha, that trustee is a cantankerous old windbag!

"The library, though not the most cheerful room I have ever seen, still, for a man's house, is not so bad-books all around from floor to ceiling, with the overflow in piles on floor and table and mantle piece  half a dozen abysmal leather chairs and a rug or so, with another black marble mantle piece  but this time conatining a crackling wood fire." I think it sounds rather nice, don't you? Anything filled with books and a crackling fire would appeal to me though. ;)

"I am glad you liked our doctor. Of course we reserve the right to say anything about him we choose, but our feelings would be awfully hurt if anybody else should make fun of him."

"Isn't it funny how the nicest men often choose the worst wives, and the nicest women the worst husbands? Their very niceness, I suppose, makes them blind and suspicious." How very true.

"You know, the most interesting pursuit in the world is studying character. I believe I was meant to be a novelist; people fascinate me-until I know them thoroughly."

"But finally, as always, it is the gentle, persistent wive who has triumphed, and hard husband has been forced to give in."

"The longer I live, the surer I am that character is the only thing that counts."

"Why must I be supposed to understand everybody's troubles?"

"It's nice to look forward to, isn't it- a life of work and play and little daily adventures side by side with somebody you love? I'm not afraid of the future anymore." So sweet!!!

And that's all for now. This has turned into quite a long blog post! I hope you all enjoyed it though, I know I did. :)


  1. Ah. I never ever get tired of these two stories! So much fun and hilarity, yet so many cute and sweet moments too. I want to be best friends with Judy and Sallie! The way they look at life is so wonderful.

    All those quotes are fun. You've convinced me I need to re-read them again. Thanks for that. Don't you know my to-read list is already long enough? (Kidding. I'm always game to read these again. ;) Great reviews!

  2. Clearly, I need to find and read these!

    Is the Fred Astaire movie Daddy Long Legs based on these? I'm betting it is, but I haven't seen it either. Time to go see if the library has any of these :-D

  3. I'm so glad you both liked the review! I had such fun writing it!

    Kara: So glad to know there are people who've read dear Jean Webster's books. Aren't they lovely? I wish I were friends with Judy and Sallie too....

    Hamlette: I don't know the movie you talk about, but I would guess and say yes, they are one and the same. I would highly recommend them (obviously) and think you should definitely check the library!

    1. The library has the first book, so I've added it to my list :-)

    2. You won't regret reading these books Hamlette! They are awesome and fun! :D

      I do want to mention that the Fred Astaire movie is based on this book, but it's vastly different. It's a cute movie if you don't go into it expecting it to be more faithful to the original like I did. :/

  4. Great review :) Here's mine if you don't mind:

    Thanks and have a nice day! :D

  5. I loved the first book and the second book was cute as well but I didn't like how the authoress was pushing eugenics. Remember? The Doctor and Sally were constantly talking about it and how certain children were basically doomed to have some of their parent's bad traits. Sally talked as if they shouldn't even have been born. That really turned me off from the second book. I know this is late to be commenting, but oh well!

  6. An fascinating discussion is value comment. I think that it is best to write extra on this matter, it won’t be a taboo topic however generally people are not enough to talk on such topics. To the next. Cheers
    Prom Dresses