Recently, I have been reading Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster, having found it for free on kindle. I was vaguely aware of it as a “classic girls’ story”, perhaps something like the Little Women or Anne of Green Gables books – though I didn’t really know anything more about it than that.
It follows the story of a foundling, Jerusha, who is unexpectedly sponsored to go to college (i.e. University) by a mysterious and anonymous benefactor who requests that she sends him a letter each month describing her progress. Having once caught sight of him leaving the Home (asylum? orphanage?) where she was brought up and noting his long-limbed shadow, she nicknames him Daddy-Long-Legs and writes to him most confidingly.
It’s a very pleasant story. It’s nice, of course, to read of someone who hasn’t had many good things happen to her now enjoying innocent pleasures like buying non-hand-me-down dresses and making taffy. It reminds me rather of What Katy Did At School, although less moralistic in tone – Jerusha (soon calling herself Judy) openly admits to the occasional spot of temper, or jealousy. It’s one of the things that’s rather endearing about her.
I expect the story to end with the revelation of Daddy-Long-Legs’ identity. I’m pretty sure I know who it is; I’m 63% of the way through and guessed from the appearance of a character (at about 30%) that he would turn out to be Daddy-Long-Legs. There have been a couple of pretty obvious-to-the-reader clues. I also strongly suspect that they will end up romantically involved, although I hope not; she’s been writing to him as “Daddy” and that would be kind of creepy. Also (assuming I’m right) the way that she writes to him about himself is kind of delightful and kind of worrying … in that I feel he has a moral responsibility to let her know who he is or else encourage her not to write about him. You talk to people completely outside situations differently from how you talk to people involved in them, and when she’s writing to him as though he’s outside when really he’s inside … there’s a touch of dishonesty in not putting her straight, or finding some way to avoid the situation.
Overall, I’m enjoying reading it, and hope (though do not expect) to be surprised by some unforeseen twist towards the end of the story, revealing that Daddy-Long-Legs is actually someone completely different. Part 2 to come after I’ve finished it.