My Thoughts on Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster

Covert art from Bantam Books’ reprint of the novel

This is a classic, and I’m sure there are a lot of better reviews for this book than I can ever provide. So I’ll just write down some personal thoughts here.

– So I didn’t realize that this book itself is hailed a classic in Western literary world. I knew that the anime of almost the same title (My Daddy Long Legs, also known as Judy Abbott in the Philippines when it was dubbed and aired on local TV), though. I’m glad I picked this up.

– Looking back, I realized that the anime adaptation turned the girls into high school students. This was a moment of enlightenment. I’m planning to watch the anime to see how well the anime translated the original story of college girls into that of pre-pubescent teens.

daddy+long+legs

– Jean Webster was also an orphan herself, which makes the story more convincing because it was written by someone who knew the reality of being an orphan. Imagination could do the work, but there’s this credibility and sense of realism from someone who had lived like Jerusha Abbott at some point in her life.

– To be honest, I got quite bored when I got into the middle of the book. Fortunately, things got interesting, albeit a little too predictable, in the last third of it. The gods of romance finally turned the gears of development. lol

– Judy Abbott is a very interesting character: she’s lively and honest (a bit too frank most of the time) and says what’s in her mind. She has a sense of equality and morality, actively arguing with Daddy Long Legs when she thinks what he wants her to do just isn’t right. She’s smart, too. Her quick wit and intelligence shows in her writing (the book is in a diary format, the letters she wrote for DLL). Needless to say, Judy is a writer. Well, she aimed to become a writer.

– Before I read this book and only looked back on my cloudy memories on the anime, I thought of Sally McBride as the good friend while Julia Pendleton is the ‘bad’ friend. Okay, that was just oversimplified, but I do remember that Julia wasn’t that bad at all. She only showed some hostility to Judy at first, but they get along at the end, although in ways a grade school kid might misinterpret. And that’s how it also was in the book, which is good. At least, I was spared from the “school bullies picking on the weak heroine” kind of drama that I can’t stand, especially if the said heroine is absolutely weak and needs a prince to save her. Thank goodness, Judy wasn’t like that at all!

– To conclude this, I want to mention that I truly enjoyed this book even though the middle third was an effective sleep inducer. I read somewhere that this book started the trend of “college girls facing real life challenges such as marriage, etc.” And I do feel its similarity with L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, which I read way back in grade school and I know I have to read it again because it’s a classic. Daddy-Long-Legs (yes, with the hyphens) is a funny romance that sometimes takes a serious tone in the appropriately defining moments, i.e. twists and turns, of the life of Judy. This is a must-read classic for maidens at heart.

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