Balsam's Reads: Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Image source:https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/77/Daddy_Long_Legs_frontespizio.png

I have been telling everybody I know about Jean Webster’s Daddy Long Legs, a book which I have recently finished reading and fell in love with!


To summarize, the book follows the life of an orphan 17 year old girl who spent all her life in an asylum and was luckily chosen by one of the trustees to be sent to college, to work and become an author. The trustee – which she referred to as Daddy long legs due to his tall figure, as that was the only visualization she had of him – offered to pay for her schooling, as well as monthly allowances with exchange of monthly letters to let him know updates on her academic life, as well as her personal life in general. The book is the series of letters which she sends to ‘Daddy long legs’ during her four years of college. It is a beautifully addressed series of events where she grows as a young woman, educates herself and receives education, meets new things in the world, travels and eventually falls in love.

I was extremely drawn to the book and found a great deal of myself in the character, named Jerusha Abbott but likes to be called Jody Abbott. I have personally never felt more related to a fictional character as much as I did with Jody. It was not the fact that she was an orphan, as I am fortunate enough to be raised with a loving family, however it was the thoughts and ideas which she had. Jean Webster did a marvelous job in the portrayal of the characters inner thoughts and mindset, as well as approach on life.

One thing that the character has mentioned in one of her many letters to Daddy Long Legs, and I found to be extremely inspiring and something I truly believe in is the following:

“it isn’t the great big pleasures that count the most; it’s the making a great deal out of the little ones – I’ve discovered the true secret of happiness, Daddy, and that is to live in the now. Not to be forever regretting the past, or anticipating the future; but to get the most that you can get out of this very instant”

I am fortunate enough to discover this – just like Jerusha Abbott – at an early age, before it is too late and happiness cannot be found anymore. Similarly, I have learnt a great deal about true love. I believe it made me grow as a young woman after reading Jerusha’s confession about her love for Master Jervie towards the end of the novel (oops, sorry for the spoiler!) as I feel like it has been beautifully illustrated with words:

“And he is – oh, well! He is just himself, and I miss him, and miss him, and miss him. The whole world seems empty and aching. I hate the moonlight because it’s beautiful and he isn’t here to see it with me. But maybe you’ve loved somebody, too, and you know? If you have, I don’t need to explain; if you haven’t, I can’t explain”

One other important lesson I have learnt is the importance of warmth and having a good heart. It does not do to only take take take, and forget to give to the less fortunate. You will always be remembered by the good deeds which you have made, and when you have a great influence on somebody’s life, that person will always see you as a positive role model. I have taken from this book a great message: to do my best in making this world a better place, even if it is by being able to change one person’s life to the better.


I strongly recommend that you read this book, it impressed me and I can’t see why it wouldn’t impress you.

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