Thursday, 3 October 2013

Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster- Review by Carlyn

I love classic school themed books. The books are usually about some kid going to boarding school and how their life is during the school year. What I love about them is the freedom that young people use to have in those days and how they use to entertain themselves.

Doesn’t Daddy Long Legs sound like a book about spiders? The book is about an orphaned girl named Judy Abbott who goes to college. To be honest, I don’t like the title of the book at all. I think it’s too juvenile a title for a girl going to college and the fact that she calls her benefactor Daddy Long Legs is very childish.

The book starts with the overseers of the orphanage discussing Judy and how she was too old to live at the orphanage and needs to earn her own living. Fortunately, one of the benefactors of the orphanage sees that Judy has a talent for writing and offers to fund her college education. The manager of the orphanage tells Judy that her benefactor has one condition about the scholarship.  His one condition is that he wishes to remain anonymous to her and that she is to write a letter to him about her schooling.  Judy is also told to expect no reply to any of her letters as he is a busy man. Judy thinks she saw her benefactor one night at the orphanage. She thinks of him as all arms and legs like a daddy long leg spider so that’s how she addresses him in her letters. After all, he said that he would never reply to the letters so she can call him what she likes!

Judy’s letters offer an interesting insight on college life in the 19th century. During that time, only wealthy women went to college. Rich families sent their daughters to college so that they could become more accomplished before entering society. Other girls had to make their own living so a college education provided them with more career prospects. It was still in a time that women were expected to quit their jobs when they got married so some people felt that college was an expensive waste of time for women.

When Judy goes to college, she learns that she lived a very sheltered life. She has never been on a train, never read fairy tales, gone to plays or worn new clothing. Judy also hides the fact that she is an orphan and pretends that her letters to Daddy Long Legs are letters to various family members. At college, Judy does a wide variety of courses and activities. She does biology, literature, philosophy, physics and she played basketballs, starred in plays, did gymnastics and swimming. I felt that as Judy was a novice in the world that it helped the reader go on a journey with her through early 19th century life in America. I also found it fascinating to learn that basketball that women were playing it in the early 19th century too.
There’s also a love story in Daddy Long Legs that I didn’t really dwell on. I was more interested in Judy’s social and academic life. Judy has two love interests in the story but it’s obvious who she would pick. I thought they were a good match because they were so similar. I also found it a little incestuous because he had a paternal air to him.

 I found Judy Abbott to be an enthusiastic and strong heroine. I admired how she was eager to try new things even though she was worried sometimes about whether she did them properly. Judy also worked hard and never took anything for granted as she never had anything at the orphanage. I kinda disapproved on how she hid the fact that she was an orphan from her friends as if it was something shameful. Judy lied about presents she received from Daddy Long Legs, pretending they came from various family members. On one occasion, she bought a hat suitable for an old woman and sent it to Daddy Long Legs to pretend that he was her grandma. However, I do understand the context of that time. If you came from an orphanage, one could imply that you are a love child which was very shameful in those times.

Do you like any classic children’s books?



  1. Nice review Carlyn! :) Here's mine if you don't mind:

    Thanks and have a nice day! :D

    1. Thanks for reading my review Loraine. It's always nice to discuss books with others. I also read your review and left some comments about it on your blog.

  2. I love this book! But I actualy love the sequel, Dear Enemy, even more. It's a little more grown up.

    My other love is the Chalet School books by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer. I ate them up as a child and still look out for them in bookshops.

    1. I look forward to reading Dear Enemy. I will look out for the Chalet School books,I like the combination of snow and school together.


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