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Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster
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Daddy-Long-Legs (1912)

by Jean Webster (Author)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Daddy-Long-Legs (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,918653,572 (4.13)197
  1. 60
    Dear Enemy by Jean Webster (kathleen.morrow)
    kathleen.morrow: The sequel to Daddy Long Legs, featuring Sally's adventures at an orphan asylum
  2. 40
    I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (mybookshelf)
    mybookshelf: Both are classic stories about unusual young women who enjoy writing.
  3. 30
    Carney's House Party: A Deep Valley Story by Maud Hart Lovelace (Bjace)
    Bjace: Partially set at Vassar. Also a story about college friendships.
  4. 20
    A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter (Hollerama)
  5. 10
    Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher (charl08)
    charl08: Similar epistolary format, although with very different results!
  6. 10
    When Patty Went to College by Jean Webster (Bjace, Hollerama)
    Bjace: Patty is a fun but less responsible version of Judy Abbott. Both of these are college stories probably set at Vassar.
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English (59)  Spanish (2)  German (1)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (64)
Showing 1-5 of 59 (next | show all)
Jerusha Abbott is 18 and still living in the orphanage where she has spent her entire life when an unidentified trustee insists on sending her to college. The only stipulation is that Jerusha write the trustee one letter a month. She enthusiastically complies and immediately gives him the name Daddy Long Legs in reference to the brief look she got of him as he was leaving the orphanage. Through these letters we learn of the light-hearted, carefree reflections of a young girl attending college in the early 1900s. ( )
  valorrmac | Aug 19, 2015 |
A charming novel, which is apparently a classic but which I had never heard of as a child - presumably because the winter-spring romance that develops would now be considered scandalous. But I found it enjoyable and not too implausible as far as romances go, and enjoyed the letter format - reminiscent of Pride & Prejudice. ( )
  Audacity88 | Aug 10, 2015 |
You should read this review if:

1. You haven’t read this book and need to know why you should,

or

2. You’ve read this book, but need to know about the connection between Daddy-Long-Legs and J.D. Salinger.

(Okay, or: 3. Regardless of whether or not you’ve read this book, you now think I’ve been smoking something I shouldn’t have been. Please read this review so I can convince you otherwise. Thank you.)

There is something to be said for not having read the classics as a kid – provided, of course, you steal time as an adult to catch up on everything you’ve missed. There’s nothing like finding out the fun way, in your 20s or 30s or 40s, that the reason a particular work is called a classic is that it’s absolutely wonderful.

This isn’t always the case. I can’t guarantee you’ll shriek, “Where have you BEEN all my life?” if you pick up, say, Gargantuan and Pantagruel. But I’ve had two separate friends express their startled delight that Anna Karenina is not only not too hard for mere mortals to read, but is in fact a moving and engrossing read (and a ripping good one at that). I myself missed out on To Kill A Mockingbird until I was in my 40s, because everybody only talked about the important moral issues it discusses, and nobody mentioned how hard its writing kicks arse. (I only finally read it because I got too embarrassed about having to admit that I hadn’t and I’m a lousy liar.)

So: Daddy-Long-Legs is an absolute delight. I figured it would be cute and, given how long ago it was written, probably pretty sappy. That’s okay. I can deal with a little sap. Sometimes I even like it.

But the young narrator, Jerusha Abbott, is mercilessly sharp and laugh-out-loud funny. Put it to you this way: My son decided to read this after he kept cracking up from all the bits I read out loud to him at the breakfast table. He’s a sixteen-year-old EDM aficionado. If you’re still holding out, I don’t know what to tell you.

This is the story of a girl who insists on being her own spiky, sharp, funny self in spite of growing up in an orphanage whose goal, as Jerusha puts it, “is to turn the ninety-seven orphans into ninety-seven twins.” This is not “virtue rewarded” in the usual sense of the phrase. Jerusha is given a scholarship to college thanks to her excellent writing. The essay that snagged her this scholarship was a bitterly funny piece about the orphanage.

I LOVE the fact that Jerusha escapes a horrible situation by speaking up about how awful it is. Yes, I’ve been reading too many Regency-era novels about how women who suffer ills and abuses patiently are rewarded. This book was the perfect antidote.

Here’s something else I didn’t expect from this book: a Salinger connection.

I recently reread The Catcher in the Rye. If you’ve read it, too, you’ll probably recall that the narrator, Holden Caulfield, starts this book having less than a wonderful day. Specifically, he just found out he’s being expelled from his swanky boarding school. He goes to his room to try to relax with a book:

“I’d only read about three pages, though, when I heard somebody coming through the shower curtains. Even without looking up, I knew right away who it was. It was Robert Ackley, this guy that roomed right next to me. ...Nobody ever called him anything except ‘Ackley.’ Not even Herb Gale, his own roommate, ever called him ‘Bob’ or even ‘Ack.’ If he ever gets married, his own wife’ll probably call him ‘Ackley.’”

That’s a funny passage. It also emphasizes Ackley’s name.

It becomes clear very quickly that Holden isn’t fond of Ackley at the best of times. Today he finds him particularly annoying because Ackley won’t let him read. No matter how often Holden hints that he’s reading, or at least he’d like to be, annoying Ackley just won’t leave.

Okay. Big deal. Way to be random, Deborah.

EXCEPT.

Here is a wonderful passage from Daddy-Long-Legs, part of a chapter in which the narrator has been listing all the reasons it’s been a lousy day at school. (Jerusha has mentioned earlier that the best part of every day for her is the evening, when she curls up to read – not assigned reading, but “just plain books” to make up for all the lost time at the bookless orphanage.)

“Friday is sweeping day, and the maid had mixed all the papers on my desk. We had tombstone for dessert (milk and gelatin flavored with vanilla). We were kept in chapel twenty minutes later than usual to listen to a speech about womanly women. And then – just as I was settling down with a sigh of well-earned relief to The Portrait of a Lady, a girl named Ackerly, a dough-faced, deadly, unintermittently stupid girl, who sits next to me in Latin because her name begins with A, came to ask if Monday’s lesson commenced at paragraph 69 or 70, and stayed ONE HOUR. She has just gone.”

Am I one of those Salinger conspiracy-theorist weirdos, or does it sound like Salinger liked Daddy-Long-Legs and paid it a strange little tribute in his best-known book?

You should read Daddy-Long-Legs and decide for yourself. If you’ve already read it but it’s been a long time, you should read it again and see how much fun it is to read classics when you’re a chronological grownup and can decide for yourself what you feel like reading. ( )
  Deborah_Markus | Aug 8, 2015 |
A coming of age story about a young orphan girl who meets her benefactor and soul mate.
I did not believe that Jerusha was dependent on her benefactor, Daddy Long Legs. Jerusha was an independent woman. Her love of Daddy Long Legs, comes from her desire to belong to a family. He became her entire family; her grandmother, her uncle, her father, all rolled into one. Her love for him was based not only this, but also for his generosity to her. He had given her a way out of the drudgery her life was, in the asylum. Who wouldn’t be grateful and loving to such a person? ‘I love college and I love you for sending me.’

Jerusha proved, that by accepting a Trustee’s gift of a college education, anything more than that, would make her dependent, and she was not comfortable with this.
Jerusha received a $50.00 check from Daddy Long Legs, after she had written to him about the lovely hats Julia bought. This check was unacceptable to Jerusha. She knew she was a charity case, and although she was able to accept the allowance and college funding from him, this was above and beyond. Especially since Jerusha had intended to pay him back, everything he had given her. ‘Id love pretty hats and things, but I mustn't mortgage the future to pay for them.’ The check was returned to him.

Jerusha shows her independence by following her judgement, in accepting the scholarship she was awarded. The scholarship would cover board and tuition for two years. Jerusha won it for marked proficiency in English. Her benefactor conveyed to her, not to accept it. “I don’t understand your objection in the least. But anyway, it won’t do the slightest good for you to object, for I’ve already accepted it and I am not going to change!” She further communicates her independence as she writes, ‘don’t be annoyed because your chick is wanting to scratch for herself. She’s growing up into an awfully energetic little hen - with a very determined cluck and lot of beautiful feathers (all due to you).’ She is telling him that she is developing her own mind and can make important decisions on her own, thanks to her maturity, and her education.

Jerusha’s mind was also made up when she wrote Daddy Long Legs, about her spending the summer at the seaside with Mrs. Paterson, to tutor her daughter. She would be earning fifty dollars a month. She did not give him the chance to object, because her mind was set. In this instance, she was going to earn money, just as she had when she won the scholarship. She was realizing her potential, and that she could pay back some of the charity, given to her. She was also demonstrating that she had free will. ‘How does my program strike you, Daddy? I am getting quite independent, you see. You have put me on my feet and I think I can almost walk alone by now.’
( )
  Spiritus3 | Apr 7, 2015 |
I couldn't shake the feeling that I was reading a shoujo manga novelization. We all know going into this that Judy will marry her patriarchal patron and it is all a bit creepy, but her character is so engaging, sympathetic, and amusing that you enjoy reading it anyway. ( )
  endlesserror | Nov 25, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (25 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Webster, JeanAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ardizzone, EdwardIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Boveri, MargretTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Haapanen-Tallgren, TyyniTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ibbotson, EvaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kliphuis, J.J.F.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Korthals Altes, AlisonIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mac Neill, JoanCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Munsching, Annie vanEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schreuder, H.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tholema, A.C.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Veen, H.R.S. van derEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The first Wednesday in every month was a Perfectly Awful Day--a day to be awaited with dread, endured with courage and forgotten with haste.
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This entry is for the book Daddy-Long-Legs, first published in 1912. Please do not combine with the 1919 Mary Pickford film, the 1931 Janet Gaynor/Warner Baxter film, or the 1955 Fred Astaire/Leslie Caron film.
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All sorts of things begin to happen when an orphaned boarding school student finally meets the wealthy guardian with whom she has corresponded for years sight unseen.

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