Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster

Written way back in 1912 for children or young adults, by Jean Webster, a woman who believed in women’s rights and other socially progressive issues, this book has been made into films and stage plays.

And for some reason, I had never read it. Which is crazy, because as a kid I was a reader, so I’ve read most of those novels that children are meant to read. I remember my mother telling me this mysterious, romantic story about a girl with a mysterious benefactor whom she never sees.

And finally I came across a copy, and assuaged my curiosity.

The book is about an orphan called Jerusha Abbott, whose life is changed by a mysterious man whose looming shadow she only sees, and who sends her to college. His hope is that she will become a writer, due to her abilities, and she must write him regular letters telling of her progress, but never should she expect a reply.

The letters to the man make up the book, and she dubs the stranger Daddy Long Legs, due to her only impression of him being his spider-like shadow in a hallway. The mystery of who he is is part of the fun, but the author captures a kind-hearted, hard working soul in Jerusha, who soon calls herself Judy. The letters are often very touching, funny and contain little drawings. The descriptions of life for a girl who has grown up in an orphanage, who sometimes feels the social and class differences keenly are very well drawn and touching. But I think I liked best her descriptions of people, her new friendships and her growing love of books, as well as her gratitude and determination to be happy. It’s really lovely to read.

As the story progresses, Judy becomes more independent, tries her hand at writing, grows into a young woman, and most importantly, falls in love.

A sweet tale from a bygone era that has retained all it’s charm, humour and mystery. A delight.

Read It If: you liked Anne of Green Gables or Little Women, it’s that kind of story.

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