Daddy Long Legs, by Jean Webster, has been on my reading list for years now. Until today, I haven’t even known what the book was about. No, really! It’s just that it caught my eye nearly every time I went into a library or book store; the name is intriguing. I wish I’d read this book sooner, because it was absolutely charming, through and through. On the other hand, I’m very glad I’ve put off reading this book because Daddy Long Legs was the perfect way to kick off the New Year!
Daddy Long Legs Overview
Jean Webster’s classic, Daddy Long Legs, is about an orphan who’s just finished school and gets sent to college by a beneficent, yet anonymous, trustee of the orphanage where she grew up. The only condition for him to pay for her schooling is that she writes him at least one letter every month. Oh, and she must accept that he will never respond to her letters.
And that’s what the book is; a collection of letters from Judy (given name ‘Jerutha,’ but she hates that!) to her ‘Daddy Long Legs’ throughout her college years.
Throughout those 4 years of college, she makes friends, works through her feelings of alienation as a poor orphan surrounded by wealthy college students, and more, and she tells it all to her mysterious trustee.
My Thoughts and Opinions
Daddy Long Legs is an incredibly easy and relaxing read! I started it at around 7am while at work and finished it around 3pm after reading it on and off throughout the day. It makes sense that this book is so easy to read, as it was originally published as a children’s book. Kid’s these days don’t speak the same way that kids in the early 1900’s did, though, so these days Daddy Long Legs is considered more of a young adult’s novel. As such, this book is very PG.
I have a very, very strong bias towards PG content. It seems to me that writing something that’s able to capture the attention of both adults and children alike is more impressive than just writing for one group or the other. Daddy Long Legs pulls it off skillfully!
The plot is solid, and doesn’t rely on cheap or vulgar scenes to create interest. As the letters progress throughout the years in the book, the reader can actually hear how Judy is maturing, and how her education is benefiting her. She experiments with different styles and formats as she learns them, too. Yet, mature as she may become, she never loses the key aspects of her personality.
Judy is sassy, independent, and all around good humored. Webster’s depiction of the problems faced by young women is down to earth and holistic; Judy goes through many of the trials and tribulations of young adulthood and shares them all in a manner realistic to a young woman in college.
Loneliness and alienation, studiousness and playfulness, and an abounding curiosity about the world all act to tug Judy in different directions throughout her journey. Even when Judy faces troubles, it’s hard not to laugh at the sheer relatability of it all. It’s remarkable to me that I would relate so much to a character in a book written over a decade ago!
Throughout the book are the most charming illustrations, doodles of life as drawn from Judy’s perspective, drawn by the author Webster herself. These illustrations only add to the realness of Judy’s character, and show just how eager she is to share her life with someone she can call ‘family.’
The actual events in the book aren’t all that interesting. Being inside of a house for the first time, going to a farm for the first time, the book is filled with many firsts. What makes it interesting is the humorous, enthusiastic, and sometimes cheeky way that the events are described!
Where to Read Daddy Long Legs
I have some good news for you. Jean Webster’s ‘Daddy Long Legs’ is in the public domain. You know what that means, right? It means that you can read this book online for free. And you’ve got options, too! You can even legally download a PDF file of the book to upload to an ereader if you wanted. Here’s a list of a couple places to find Daddy Long Legs:
- Project Gutenberg (with photos and illustrations)
- Project Gutenberg (with formatting options)
- Wikisource (with illustrations)
- Public Bookshelf (without illustrations)
Thank you so much for reading! Have you read Daddy Long Legs? Let me know what you thought of it in the comments below, and don’t forget to like and subscribe for more Freshly Stale content ☺️