Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Girl of the Limberlost

A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton Porter

I’m so glad I found this book. It's so sweet. My almost 11-year-old daughter is dying to get her hands on it; as I read it I enticed her with lots of crumbs (spoilers).

A Girl of the Limberlost was published in 1909 and it’s a sequel to the book Freckles. I haven’t read Freckles, but my friend Katie (who recommended this book) said it wasn’t that necessary, which I found to be true. (But I’ll probably read it now, anyway.)

The Limberlost is a large swamp and forestland in northeastern Indiana, and it was home to the author, Gene Stratton Porter. Her home and her deep interest in nature, especially birds and butterflies, provided much of the setting and basis for her books.

In the story, Elnora Comstock is a neglected country girl who longs to receive an education, but is held back by her bitter and cruel mother. Ever resourceful, Elnora manages to find joy in nature (especially in collecting moths and butterflies), and rise above her bleak home life.

Many great themes run throughout this book, one of which is the relationship between mother and daughter. Mrs. Comstock is a disturbed, hardened woman who suffered a great tragedy when Elnora was young. We see her vulnerability and the gradual steps she takes to reconcile herself with her daughter. I grew to love this character, Mrs. Comstock. The relationship between her and Elnora almost mirrors Anne Shirley and her relationship with Katherine with a K. There are other parallels to Anne of Green Gables, too – like Anne, Elnora possesses determination, intelligence, and an ability to find joy in the small things, especially when life has been so harsh.

The second half of the book develops into a romance and introduces some really entertaining plot twists and characters.

I enjoy reading books from other eras – the language and mannerisms of the characters, and even the writer’s punctuation add so much charm. I wanted to read outside among the birds and mosquitoes with a tall glass of lemonade, but I didn’t. I thought the ending was a bit melodramatic, but otherwise I found this book to be a very pleasant summertime read!

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