Daddy-Long-Legs (Part 2)

(see Part 1 here)

Well, I’ve finished Daddy-Long-Legs (Jean Webster). I must say, it went distinctly uphill from the point I was at when I posted last (63% of the way through).

At that point, I was quite concerned about the power dynamics between Judy and Daddy-Long-Legs: wealthy older male anonymous benefactor and penniless younger female foundling who is telling him a great deal about herself including many quite private thoughts … this could go badly.

However, in the remaining third of the book, Judy pushes back rather more and insists on her own independence. Which is a pretty brave thing to do, really. Also, he doesn’t use his ‘unfair’ knowledge of her in an inappropriate or manipulative way, as I feared he might.

The person I had guessed would be Daddy-Long-Legs did indeed turn out to be he, so no surprises there. I was pleasantly surprised that the age gap was less than I had anticipated (14 years, which I believe puts them at ages 21 and 35 at the end of the novel). Webster also undercuts some of the power imbalance by having Daddy-Long-Legs really quite ill towards the end of the novel (in particular, in the scene when Judy finds out who he is), as well as giving Judy some small but significant financial success, which puts her in a much stronger position.

Overall, I’ve rather enjoyed this. It was an undemanding, perfectly pleasant read. Perhaps it’s a book that in its time (first published 1912) might have been important because it showed women going to College, but these days that is commonplace (hurrah!). I’ve seen from Wikipedia that there’s a sequel, ‘Dear Enemy’, composed of letters from Judy’s friend Sallie to various characters in the years following Daddy-Long-Legs. I’ll probably read that at some point, but it’s not going to the top of my list. (That’s probably a good indicator of what I thought of the book as a whole.)

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