I *LOVE* Jean Webster!!!! Daddy Long-Legs was such a fun read when I was a kid…and also a few months ago when I decided to reread it! I think my original copy still lives back home with my parents, but way back when I got my Nook, finding hard-to-find books has become a lot easier. Finally long-forgotten books that have fallen out of print and into the public domain are being resurrected using modern technology to digitize these treasures—And the best part of all, is that readers can find them and download them for FREE!!!!! #inlove
Somehow, I think I ended up downloading like five different editions of Daddy Long-Legs, and one version, in particular, had a very pleasant surprise—There was medium-sized introduction to the book, before actually getting into the story. Generally I skim past introductions and check them out after I’ve finished the book—I like to have a blank slate when I start reading—But even though I was skimming, I still had to page forward in order to get to the first chapter, and that’s when the last page of the introduction caught my eye. Even though I had occasionally e-searched Jean Webster before (when I discovered back in high school/college there was a sequel, Dear Enemy) , I was stunned to find that she had actually written several more books!!!—And because she wrote them in the early 1900s, I was able to find almost all of them in the public domain and download them. *GIANT SMILE*
And of course I thought I’d start at the beginning with Jean Webster’s first book, When Patty Went to College. Published in 1903. When Patty Went to COLLEGE.
How fantastic is it to stumble upon a series full of independent female characters who are going to college!??!?! In 1903. That only served to add to my curiosity. Nowadays, it’s pretty common for people to go to college and continue their education; it’s become the standard much more often, than not. But, at least in my mind, it seems like college wouldn’t have been very accessible to the masses—that finishing high school (or not), was enough to find a job and start working, or get married and start a family, if you were a woman. I think the explanation is in that Jean Webster’s characters seem to come from rather privileged backgrounds. Patty and her friends attend an all-girl school; it seems as if the intended goal is to turn out educated young women who will make desirable society wives, but there’s no discounting that they are still getting the advantage of an education. In fact, many of their teachers are female as well! For me, reading Jean Webster’s books has been like a little glimpse into the past, inlaid with commentary on women’s place in society at the time, like comments about women’s suffrage interlaced in casual conversations. One part in particular that I find very telling, is how Patty talks about all the visiting ministers seem to be giving the same sermon over and over—apparently weekly chapel services are a school requirement—Patty tells how after four years, she could recite the sermon herself. Apparently most of the visiting ministers are of the presumption that in attending college, their female audience has discarded its femininity, and must be urged to remember that
But historical value and novelty aside, When Patty Went to College was a fabulously fun read! The story revolves around Patty, finishing her final year of college, and her life full of playful shenanigans. Patty is one of those characters that has a way of wrapping her friends around her finger, and before they know it their up to their necks in another of Patty’s I-Love-Lucy-esque schemes. And it wasn’t long before I was just as enamored with her, myself! From the very first chapter, I was in love with her bold, confident attitude, and charming way of getting others to see things from her perspective. I’m pretty sure my jaw actually dropped a couple of times in amazement. And when I burst out laughing at one of Patty’s outrageous moves, I ended up having to read the whole scene out to my sister, wherein we both erupted into hysterics—Seriously, we were bordering on asthma attacks.
And after that scene, I had to start at the beginning, and whenever we ran errands I would read aloud. It was just such a fun read, (and because reading older books makes me use old-fashioned words), I have to say, it was a pure delight. :)
I think my only critique is that the book seemed to end a bit abruptly, and especially with an ebook, I didn’t see it coming—I know both my sister and I were sorry to see it come to an end. Thank goodness Ms. Webster left us a few others to share!!!!! :D
(\__/) p.s. counts towards the 2011 Ebook *and* the Show Me the Free Challenges!!! :D