Saturday, June 30, 2012

Book Review: A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter

Book Description:
Of all the books written by Hoosier writers, Gene Stratton-Porter's A Girl of the Limberlost is unquestionably the most cherished: the timeless story of an impoverished young girl, Elnora Comstock, growing up on the edge of the Limberlost swamp. Elnora Comstock has served as a role model for successive generations of independent young readers.
My thoughts:
I noticed that the Reading to Know Bookclub was doing A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter and at the last minute decided I would read it, especially since it was on my The Classics Club reading list.

I was only 100 pages into the story when after the umpteenth reference to Freckles I decided that I needed to give Freckles a re-read and then pick up where I left off in A Girl of the Limberlost.

When we meet Elnora Comstock she is headed to her first day of high school. On her arrival she realizes that her clothes are all wrong and then is told that she must pay for her tuition and books. Thus begins Elnora's quest to raise her own money. She discovers a means when she sees a wanted sign for speciman's from nature and quickly goes and raids her own speciman collection to raise money for school. As the story progresses the sad relationship between Elnora and her mother is revealed. Even though Elnora receives no love from her mother this does not affect Elnora's true nature. Elnora continues to find moths and other creatures from the Limberlost during her years in high school and also discovers she has the ability to play the violin. She has to keep this knowledge from her mother, but when it is found out this eventually leads to a healing in her and her mother's relationship.

As Elnora gets ready for college she realizes that she doesn't have the money to attend and takes a teaching job. During this time she meets Philip Ammon, who is recovering from scarlet fever, and they spend many months combing the Limberlost for specimans to use in her nature study classes. She comes to love Philip, but treats him as only a friend never revealing her true feeling since he is already engaged. Elnora then has to endure the greatest struggle that she has ever faced in her life before true love is finally hers.

The first thing I noticed and liked about Elnora Comstock was her strength of character. Here was a young woman, that really had not received any love from her mother, and on her first day of school is ridiculed and embarrassed in front of her class. Instead of blaming the culprit she takes the blame herself. She also shows great determination when she finds way to raise money so she can attend school. Of course, this wasn't easy since she still had to do all of her chores before she could spend time looking for speciman's to sell.

As Elnora is met with struggle after struggle, day after day, she is not beaten down. Yes, there were times when she broke down, but those were short moments and she always recovered her courage and continued on. During her trying circumstances she could always look and see the good in people. Elnora was a person who life handed lemons and she made lemonade. One of her schoolmate's father made this comment:
"There's a girl Ellen can't see too much of, in my opinion," he said. "She is every inch a lady, and not a foolish notion or action about her. I can't understand just what combination of circumstances produced her in this day." p. 111
I do admit that the romance in this story seemed a little over the top, but as I read this story I could really see many similarities (poor girl meets rich boy, bad girl confronts good girl, girl holds out, etc.) in her writing style and the author Grace Livingston Hill (GLH). Now you have to understand that I have probably read most of GLH books and have a huge collection of them. I lived on them when I was a teenager, so when I later learned that they were contemporaries this made me wonder if many books written during this time were similar.

Even though this isn't a "Christian" story the author does show the greatness of the handiwork of God not only in the specimans that Elnora find but also in the beauty of the Limberlost. While looking at a moth considered the "king of poets" Elnora's mother comments:
"Young people," she said solemnly, "if your studying science and the elements has ever led you to feel that things just happen, kind of evolve by chance, as it were, this sight will be good for you. Maybe earth and air accumulate, but it takes the wisdom of the Almighty God to devise the wing of a moth. If there ever was a miracle, this whole precess is one." p. 296
I thoroughly enjoyed this story and look forward to sharing it my daughter in a year or two. I also look forward to reading more of Gene Stratton-Porter.

Reading to Know - Book Club

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What's On Your Nightstand - June

What's On Your Nightstand

For July:

From my May Nightstand, I read:
Heart of Glass by Jill Marie Landis (review)
The Story of the Amulet by E. Nesbit (review)
The Singing Sands by Josephine Tey (review)
A Praying Life: Connecting With God In A Distracting World by Paul Miller (review)
The Write Start: A Guide to Nurturing Writing at Every Stage, from Scribbling to Forming Letters and Writing Stories by Jennifer Hallisey (review)

I also read:
As You Like It (No Fear Shakespeare) by William Shakespeare
Freckles by Gene Stratton-Porter (review)
A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter (review coming)
The Jungle Books by Rudyard Kipling (review)
Five Miles South of Peculiar by Angela Hunt (review)
Winter Cottage by Carol Ryrie Brink (review)
Back to Basics: Raising Self-Sufficient Children by Barbara Frank
The Learning Coach Approach by Linda Dobson
Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books by Tony Reinke (review)
The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier by Ree Drummond (review)
Passionate Housewives Desperate for God by Jennie Chancey & Stacy MacDonald (review)

I listened to:
Mrs. Pollifax, Innocent Tourist by Dorothy Gilman
Mrs. Pollifax Unveiled by Dorothy Gilman
My Reading Life by Pat Conroy

Last month I moaned that I hadn't read very much, and I guess I thought I had to make up for it this month. It also could explain why I feel a little blah about books right now, especially when it comes to fiction. My The Classics Club list is looking better and better everyday since the newer fiction isn't appealing.

See what others have read over at 5 Minutes for Books.

Reading Journal #18 - Freckles by Gene Stratton Porter, Winter Cottage by Carol Ryrie Brink, & More

Freckles (Library of Indiana Classics) by Gene Stratton-Porter

My thoughts:
I decided at the last minute to read A Girl of the Limberlost for the Reading to Know Bookclub hosted by Carrie. I got into the first ninety pages and decided that I needed to reaquaint myself with Freckles which I had listened to a few year back.

Freckles is an orphan who has to make his own way in the world. He begs for the job of protecting the timber in the Limberlost Forest. Even though he is dreadfully scared at first, he begins to learn the way of the creatures of the forest. He also begins to self-educate himself with all the beautiful animals that he meets, especially the "chicken bird." When the Bird Woman comes to the forest to take pictures he meets the beautiful Angel whom he immediately falls in love with. For the next few years he gains friends and eventually finds out who he really is and ultimately realizes he is worthy of Angel.

What I interested me most in this story was the character of Freckles. Here is a young man who has nothing but determination, honesty, and loyalty. He also learns to love and respect nature. I really enjoyed being re-acquainted with Freckles and the Limberlost and it helped me with finished The Girl of the Limberlost.

SCROLL Pictures, Images and Photos

Winter Cottage by Carol Ryrie Brink

My thoughts:
I can't believe that I almost forgot to record reading this book!  I had went searching for other books written by Carol Ryrie Brink when I had read a recommendation for her other stories besides Caddie Woodlawn. I had read Family Grandstand and thought it was an okay read, though I do believe children would enjoy it. My next pick was Winter Cottage and I have to admit I was not disappointed!
During the beginning of the Great Depression, Minty Sparkes, along with her sister and poetry quoting father end up stranded in northern Wisconsin. They find an empty summer cottage which they decide to "rent", though they don't have any money. This leads them on an adventure which includes a run-away boy, an Indian village, and eventually two strangers who arrive on the doorstep in a blizzard. Things begin to take a fun and exciting when the identity of the strangers is revealed.

I can't begin to say how much I enjoyed this story, maybe even a little more than Caddie Woodlawn (don't quote me on this since it has been a few years since I read Caddie Woodlawn). This story was exciting, suspenseful, and just plain fun. When I finished reading it I immediately handed it to Destini (12) and said she HAD to read it. My sweet daughter obeyed her mother and agreed that it was a great read. Highly recommended!

SCROLL Pictures, Images and Photos

Five Miles South of Peculiar by Angela Hunt

My thoughts:
Darlene and Magnolia Caldwell are living peaceably at their estate, Sycamores. A surprise 50th birthday party is held for Darlene and the biggest surprise is her twin sister, Carlene, arrives back in Peculiar for a visit. Carlene, who is hiding her own painful secret, upsets Darlene's world, while Magnolia is thrilled to have her. As the three sister work through their own pains they discover who they are meant to be.

I really wanted to like this story. I love reading novels set in the south, but I found this was a tad bit annoying, and didn't have much of the southern flavor that I have found in other books. Also, the author waited until the last 1/8 of the book for everything to come together and finally get a little exciting and by then I just wanted to get it finished. I've read worse, but I've also read better.


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