Thursday, September 8, 2016

September Tea and a Book: Daddy Long Legs


Quick take: Such a delight!

Official-ish synopsis: First published in 1912, this young adult novel is comprised mostly of letters from orphan Jerusha "Judy" Abbott to her anonymous benefactor whom she names "Daddy Long Legs". The letters chronicle her departure from the orphanage through four years of college. Judy makes new friends, slowly gains knowledge and independence, but also struggles with her humble past and unfixed future. (from Amazon)

Good news: This e-book is available from both Amazon and Barnes & Noble for only $0.99!!!

My thoughts: A few years ago I read Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay, which was inspired by Daddy Long Legs. I found the story very absorbing, but a certain reveal didn't sit well with me and I ended up quite angry with the book.

(That said, if you click the link for Mr. Knightley you'll see that the book has an average rating of 4 1/2 stars with over 700 people reviewing. Dear friends of mine loved it, so don't discount it simply because it made me cranky! If you are partial to faith-based, coming-of-age love stories, it may be just the ticket.)

Anyhoo, in the years that followed I kept seeing positive references to Daddy Long Legs, and you know how I love stories of orphans and foundlings, so I decided to give it a try. WOW! It took me less than five pages to fall for Judy Abbott. She is clever, hilarious, and quite forward-thinking for her time. And when anyone tries to push her around, she pushes back.

As it turned out, some of the things that bothered me about Dear Mr. Knightley were more palatable in a story set in the early 20th century. I know I'm being cryptic. I just don't want to spoil anyone who, like me, didn't know the twist. (Though I think it might be more obvious in the original novel.)

Some favorite passages:

I find that it isn't safe to discuss religion with the Semples. Their God (whom they have inherited intact from their remote Puritan ancestors) is a narrow, irrational, unjust, mean, revengeful, bigoted person. Thank heaven I don't inherit God from anybody! I am free to make mine up as I wish Him. He's kind and sympathetic and imaginative and forgiving and understanding--and He has a sense of humour. (53)

Don't you think I'd make an admirable voter if I had my rights? I was twenty-one last week. This is an awfully wasteful country to throw away such an honest, educated, conscientious, intelligent citizen as I would be. (105)

Just back from church--preacher from Georgia. We must take care, he says, not to develop our intellects at the expense of our emotional natures [...] It doesn't matter what part of the United States or Canada they come from, or what denomination they are, we always get the same sermon. Why on earth don't they go to men's colleges and urge the students not to allow their manly natures to be crushed out by too much mental application? (135)

NOTE: As you can see, Judy is very free with socio-political criticisms, but she has her frolicsome moods as well. She reminded me of an L.M. Montgomery character--brimming with imagination and entertaining opinions!

And now for tea:

Judy spends the summer after her first year of college at Lock Willow Farm.

The farm gets more and more entertaining. I rode on a hay wagon yesterday. We have three big pigs and nine little piglets, and you should see them eat. They are pigs! We've oceans of little baby chickens and ducks and turkeys and guinea fowls. You must be mad to live in a city when you might live on a farm. (52)

When Judy mentions picking blackberries on the farm (something I did every summer on my grandparents' farm), I found myself with a powerful yearning for blackberry cobbler. Doesn't that sound lovely for a late summer tea?


I used this recipe from Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman (who lives in Oklahoma, of course!). Simple preparation and very tasty.


It didn't seem like a true cobbler without a little scoop of ice cream. I chose Breyers lactose free vanilla.


To pair with the cobbler I chose the Assam Hattiala from Palais des Th├ęs, "a beautiful large leaf Assam with an abundance of tips, a pronounced, very spicy aroma, and dark, full-bodied liquor." Perfect with a warm and sweet afternoon treat!

[Cross-posted at Livejournal]

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