Read Audible A Girl of the Limberlost By Gene Stratton-Porter –

It was a joy to read this book such a good story, and what great characters This style of writing, I would even call it a genre of it s own, you just don t see any It is probably lost and gone forever, gone with the likes of Louisa May Alcott, L.M Montgomery, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and with this writer, Gene Stratton Porter In my opinion, this novel was her finest work and I count it as one of the hidden gems of literature. Set Amid Indiana S Vast Limberlost Swamp, This Treasured Children S Classic Mixes Astute Observations On Nature With The Struggles Of Growing Up In The Early Th Century Harassed By Her Mother And Scorned By Her Peers, Elnora Comstock Finds Solace In Natural Beauty Along With Friendship, Independence, And Romance Synopsis From Huffington Post Cornfields, Soy Fields, Alfalfa Fields Indiana Has Long Been Seen As An Agricultural Plain But To Make It A Lucrative Farming State, Much Of The Land Had To Be Deforested, Leaving Behind Devastated Habitats The Limberlost, A Wetland In Northern Indiana, Was Mostly Destroyed By Drainage, Logging And Oil Production Gene Stratton Porter, An Early Th Century Naturalist And Novelist, Captured The Fading Beauty Of The Swamp In Books Like A Girl Of The Limberlost, A Novel About A Smart, Ambitious Girl Who Lives In The Dwindling Wetland With Her Mother And Pays For School By Collecting Local Moth Specimens To Sell To Naturalists The Book Isn T Exactly An Environmentalist Tract, But It Makes The Case Nonetheless It Celebrates The Beauty And Richness Of The Swampland, While Showing How Easily Economic Forces Push Landowners To Strip It Away Childrens books like A Girl of the Limberlost remind me of the instruction manuals that come with furniture that you have to assemble yourself They are assembly instructions for morality Life is so easy, and there are little stick people on the pages to show you how it is all done successfully I adored Little Women when I was a kid, for example, but in recent years I ve tried to re read it a couple of times, and I can t get past the part where Marmie makes the girls give up their Christmas breakfast so that the starving German children won t die of cold and hunger It s so simple If we give up a little of what is ours and have kind of a crappy Christmas but pretend it s fun, our parents and God, by association will love us It s not that I disagree with the message that unselfishness makes us better and even happier people, and I know if I ever have a daughter I will read her Little Women I just think that the delivery is too simplistic to be very honest, and it kind of gives me the creeps I had that same creepy and confused feeling reading A Girl of the Limberlost I would not say I m appalled at anyone who loves this book, and the person who recommended it to me is a dear friend, but I can t let this reading pass without noting how uncomfortable it makes me.This book was written 100 years ago about a generation after Little Women While Little Women is a quintessential example of American morality lessons, A Girl of the Limberlost is American capitalism through and through The central struggle of the book is a basic Cinderella plot, wherein the beautiful Elnora has been caged in the Limberlost forest by her mother, who became bitter and mean after the death of Elnora s father They own a huge amount of land and timber note word choice , where Elnora catches moths and butterflies and communes with nature Elnora, however, is basically a genius on top of being the most naturally beautiful girl anyone has met , so she wants to go to high school in the nearby town, and her stingy mother will not buy her the clothes and books necessary to do so All of this we know within the first few chapters of the book, and it s pretty obvious whose side we re on, right Gotta go with Cinderella, not the evil mother.Stratton Porter makes it very obvious that the reader is intended to see how selfish and unreasonable the mother s argument is for not giving Elnora the fancy clothes she wants no, sorry, needs , and Elnora is presented as a purely heroic character, without any intention of irony that I could detect It was very conflicting, then to be 100% on the mother s side of the argument I ll give you a selection of how the argument is characterized throughout the book to see if you agree This is from a moment in which Elnora runs in a panic to her friend, the Bird Woman, because her mother didn t buy her a new dress for graduationElnora, she said, Forgive me, but tell me truly Is your mother so extremely poor as to make this necessary No, answered Elnora Next year I am heir to my share of over three hundred acres of land covered with almost as valuable timber as was in the Liberlost We adjoin it There could be dozens of oil wells drilled that would yield to us the thousands our neighbors are draining from under us, and the bare land is worth over one hundred dollars an acre for farming She is not poor, she is I don t know what she is A great trouble soured and warped her Kind of creepy, no If you love your kids, you ll kill the forest And this Drill, baby, drill theme runs through the whole book Elnora denudes the Limberlost of moths because she can sell them to pay for school At the same time, she represents nature within the book because she loves the forest and knows everything about animals and plants So, we learn, if we really love and understand nature, we use it to get us the stuff we want I think there s a cartoon version of this story on Fox News starring Sarah Palin It kind of makes me mad that a tree died to print this book It was also a reality check for my own behavior in the opposite way of what was intended because it always seems vague to me when people talk about the ramifications of our behavior on people 100 years from now This made it muchreal because I kept wanting to get in my time machine patent pending and fly back to get this ridiculous girl not to replace the forest with farms and oil wells I hope no one feels like that about me in 2109.Aside from my problems with all of the basic messages of the book and my problem with a side story that makes me very uncomfortable about a very Dickensian street urchin and his family , it had a fairly engaging plot I m a sucker for love stories to the point that even if I really dislike everything else, I still want to see the love story play out in a book This one also had the bonus of every woman in the story learning that if she devoted her entire existence to her husband and kids, she would find true happiness shudder A Girl of the Limberlost is one of those true treasures of the book world, one I personally never would have uncovered if it weren t for my notion to do Booking It Across the US I was at a loss for an Indiana book, there weren t an abundance of titles that I recognized, but when I called on Twitter, Allison of The Allure of Books answered with Gene Stratton Porter I adore hidden classics though I admit there are quite a few not so hidden ones I really need to get to , and so I commenced to reading the free e book version that is the delight of classic lovers everywhere if you are unaware, out of copyright works are most often available in free e formats I fell in love That special kind of book love that you know will last a lifetime and require many rereadings I purchased a physical copy within 5 minutes of finishing the digital one I had to have it Reading A Girl of the Limberlost for the first time reminded me a bit of my first readings of Louisa May Alcott only perhaps evenwonderful because while I d seen movie versions of Little Women prior to reading that book I had no idea where A Girl of the Limberlost would lead me story wise I do love a girl who knows her heart and mind, and I find that in both Elnora and my dear Jo, they are a reminder that what is instinctual and what is necessary to be happy are not always one and the same.In a way Elnora is admittedly a bit of a Mary Sue before Mary Sues were really a thing Which I suppose made her the admirable type for me rather than the eye rolly one Instead of being a character to scoff at, she becomes a heroine to aspire to Gene Stratton Porter creates this character whose heart is so large and desires only love and fulfillment, but never demands it at the cost of others She is a hard worker, a devout learner and friend with ambitions that extend beyond what her meager upbringing would have normally been laid before her The fact that she is so noble as to refuse the man she loves rather than be a second choice in his heart don t you worry there s a happy ending , the resilience and insistence that she be absolutely certain of everyone s coming out of a situation to the best advantage, her ability to forgive her mother years of misguided cruelty for a future of love these are the qualities that make Elnora unforgettable.In setting, Gene Stratton Porter manages to enfold us in the Limberlost, making these Indiana woods and town feelreal and true to us than so many other books are able to manage It s no small wonder that the author has exhibits commending her locally as she manages in a mere two novels to bring the Limberlost to the world The enterprising young Elnora spends her days collecting and searching for the moths that populate the area, and in so doing we gain a picture of the woods as they are in day and in night, the beautiful and the unsavory.I loved the notion of a young girl earning her own way through school and aspiring to college when her mother supports her neither monetarily or morally While the first half of this novel could be admittedly slow, I still very much enjoyed following Elnora from a naive bright eyed girl to a woman rich in friendship, love, and knowledge That said, it was the second half of the book that d be the half with the romantic bits , that really caught my heart I can see myself picking this one up and reading from the chapter where Elnora and Philip first meet over and over again I love that Gene Stratton Porter doesn t make her romance easy, she makes it a downright health concern For so many pages my heart was in my throat with worry and suspense, not knowing how this life would pan out for Elnora, Philip and his fiancee oooh, see that scandalous Edith This book shows so clearly how we can be blinded by the affections of youth and begin to take our relationships for granted It is a book full of heartache, desire, and a warmth for others that really know the heart of you far beneath the surface.A Girl of the Limberlost is, in fact, a companion novel to Gene Stratton Porter s earlier work, Freckles You by no means have to read these two books in order I didn t , however, if you are like me you will fall so deeply in love with Elnora and this place that you will want to read all about the man Freckles and his Angel that repeatedly save her A Girl of the Limberlost is a beautiful representation of Indiana as place, and a book that the state should be and is proud of If this unarguable hidden classic has slipped beneath your radar, I cannot stresssincerely my hope that you pick it up I am endlessly in awe of Gene Stratton Porter s ability to represent these people in such a way that their life journeys seem timeless, their trials as near and true as any contemporary novel of today It is a perfect example of the reality that times, traditions, and technologies may change, but human nature never will This novel was easily my favorite pick of the entirety of Booking It Across the US, and one of my all time favorites to boot.Original review posted at Bunbury in the Stacks. First and foremost, you ask, what is a Limberlost My wife will tell you it s a fairly accurate description of my posture at my decrepit age, but however true that may be, it s irrelevant to Gene Stratton Porter s most famous novel The Limberlost is actually a famous forest area in eastern Indiana where the author and her husband made their initial wealth Today a portion of it operates as a state historical site, with tourists able to tour the cabin, which looks like this Of course, by the time Porter died at 60, a millionaire off her writing, this house wasn t fit for a closet Instead, she was building a massive Bel Air mansion while living in a cottage on Catalina Island, dictating her final words to a secretary because that s what a sweet life writing will get you Until the streetcar plows into your chauffeured limo and kills you before you can move into your mansion, that is Still, considering by that time you ve written 5 of the only 55 novels ever to sellthan a million copies by 1924, you can probably say you ve accomplished what you re going to in life.We read this book for our opening week of a class on coming of age novels and youth culture fiction GIRL is a book that countless women remember fondly, mainly because of Elnora s struggle to overcome poverty and make her way in the world by collecting moths for a mysterious creature known as The Birdwoman not of Alcatraz Poverty is a misnomer here, because Elnora s mother has money, she s just a cheap, resentful hag who must outgrow her hagitude to love her daughter the way Elnora deserves Indeed, it s fair to say it s Kate Comstock and other characters in the book who must grow up, for Elnora s unerring goodness makes adults and other teens around her painfully aware of their shortcomings We spent most of our class talking about Mama s psychology instead of Elnora s, which was a bit weird because this is is a class about adolescents in fiction, not in wrinkly embittered mothers The reality is Elnora s a bit of a cipher She doesn t so much struggle with pride, greed, temptation, etc., as other Victorian and post Victorian children must do she s mainly here to romp in the woods, chase butterflies, and saw Turkey in the Straw on the fiddle so that those of us who didn t grow up in sylvan splendor can feel deprived In other words, this is American Pastoral without any hint of the American Berserk.The weird thing is that this may be a naturalist novel, but it s not a conservationist novel as descriptions of it might seem The Limberlost is here to be turned into money Elnora reaps 300 a pop for a Yellow Empress moth, and when Mama comes to her senses, she agrees to sell off part of her land and drill for oil so Elnora can have the pretty dresses a good middle class girl is ordained to enjoy I supposed I d be out camphoring the little flutterbellies, too, for 300 I ve sold plasma for less than that but it s a definite departure from Victoria children s fiction to have Elnora revel in all the goodies her money buys her, including lavish toiletries which only a couple of decades earlier would ensure she was on the road to Limberhell.For me, the novel went off the rails about 4 5 of the way through in the obligatory romance plot where Elnora squares off against Edith Carr for the affections of one of the all time wet noodle suitors, Phil Ammons Actually, Elnora doesn t compete for Phil she lets Edith show herself for the vain, silly fool she is and tells Phil to poo or get off the pot when it comes to picking his wife She has better things to do, like deforest the American wilderness The novel really gives readers a stiff case of whiplash when we suddenly leave Indiana and head for Petoskey MI a tourist trap if there ever was one in the early 20th century where Elnora is advised by the hero of Porter s previous bestseller, Freckles Why a teenage girl would take advice from an adult male who calls himself Freckles is a question not even Nabokov could answer, but Freckles s advice is, naturally, as profound as anything Joel Osteen, Oprah, or Humbert Humbert could ever come up with follow your heart It s probably no mystery what happens at the end of the book Go Ask Alice this is not.Again, this book is fondly remembered by a lot of folks who read it in childhood, and it s not hard to understand why Like a lot of pre 1920s youth fiction it grants young women an imaginative space where they can be adventurers, scientists, mother figures, and economically independent entrepreneurs without the necessity of depending on men at least until the writer s publisher reminds her that a girl s book must end in marriage Once Porter made her millions, she unburdened herself of her dull druggist hubsand While she was building her Bel Air mansion, he was living in a boardinghouse NOTE TO MEN It pays not to be jerks to women.To me the most interesting character was the most dislikable Edith Carr As Janet Malcolm noted a few years ago in an NYRB essay, Edith seems a neurotic harbinger of Fitzgerald s flappers So she s a good transition into our next week s read, THIS SIDE OF PARADISE In the end, to me GIRL is a nice break from modern teenage angst, but I can t help but feel it s also an adult s idealization of what an adolescent should be obedient, intuitively moral, and absolutely immune to the baleful influence of corrupted adults including the creepy perv tramp who peeps into her bedroom window, only to feel instantly terrible about being a creepy perv and become her protector among the roving gangs of tramps To put it another way, Elnora is a kid who can raise herself Call me when you get out of high school, girl I ll be on Catalina Island, dictating my next novel while chauffeured in my limo Just let me finish my draft before that streetcar comes barreling. This is literally my favorite book ever I love it sooo much Why do I love it The characters, the setting, the plot, the message take your pick It features a heroine you can t help but love Elnora smart and has a great sense of right and wrong However, I wouldn t call her a Mary Sue She has her faults they re just not talked about a lot Then there s the hero I admit one can get a little frustrated at him view spoiler Is it Edith or Elnora already hide spoiler Read lots and lots of GSP when I was a kid Girl of the Limberlost remains my favorite It s an engrossing coming of age story with elements of redemption and romance, set in rural Indiana, early 20th century I would guess by the publication date I think most adolescent girls can relate to Elnora s struggles with her mother, and the resolution of that is very satisfying Elnora herself triumphs over adversity through courage, integrity, and hard work, but is not obnoxiously saintly The author was also a naturalist and the setting and plot mechanics include fascinating details about Midwestern pre strip mall landscape It s a wonderful read.There is a cameo appearance by Freckles, the title character of a previous book, so purists might like to read Freckles first. This nostalgic story was written in 1906, but has rather surprising relevance to today s culture Well crafted and unique, the issues covered include bullying, parental neglect, extramarital affair, unhealthy grief, peer pressure, alcoholism, window peeping, depression, and class culture clashes Elnora is a teenage girl with many factors making life difficult In true American spirit, she rises above the odds and educates herself and teaches others how to treat her She achieves not only an education, but becomes a musical virtuoso and esteemed local scientist and don t forget about finding true love. What a delightful book Beautiful on its own it is a a superior sequel to Freckles It reminded me of Anne of Green Gables and An Old Fashioned Girl with scenes of Pride and Prejudice think of Darcy s aunt visiting Lizzie Unlike Laddie, this was gripping from the very start and like Laddie was rich with beautiful descriptions An extremely well done story that will be revisited by me many times in the future. Elnora Comstock leaves deep in the Limberlost swamp of Indiana with her mother, who hates her, and a kindly childless couple next door The year is approximately 1909, and fifteen year old Elnora is going to high school if she has to die trying Her mother rails abuse at her, while Wesley and Margaret Sinton have to sneak behind her mom s back to help her.At first Elnora sticks out terribly The town kids bully her for her threadbare, hopelessly out of fashion old clothes and na ve manners Not to mention she s too poor to even buy textbooks.But, in the first of many brilliant decisions and a few inexplicable stupid ones , Elnora decides to earn some money by trading moth specimens with a mysterious figure known as the Bird Woman The Limberlost is fairly crawling with different kinds of moth As she captures the little creatures, Elnora has no idea that those moths aren t just paying for her education they will become the catalyst that turns her youth into her adulthood.As she perseveres at school, she is alternately abused and admired by her mother, who has been bitter and paranoid about everything since the drowning of her husband, which happened on the very day that Elnora was born The deceased Mr Comstock is a mysterious presence in the book, with a negative legacy that is slowly destroying a local woman, and a positive one that flourishes in his daughter.Elnora eventually makes friends among her schoolmates, and also takes pity on a starving child named Billy, who is stuck in the swamp with his raging alcoholic father and no food Billy is eventually adopted by the Sintons, and while he starts out feral, he strives to be a little gentleman and please them.After graduating high school, Elnora discovers that she lacks the funds to pay for college Her mom is now on her side for good, and they spend all their time hunting for swamp moths to trade for cash On one of these expeditions they cross paths with a handsome, rich young man from the city Philip Ammon, who loves moths as much as Elnora does It is inevitable and right that the two young people fall for each other, but in his pampered youth he made some bad judgment calls namely, an engagement to a narcissistic and cruel society belle that prevent an honorable union.And that society belle, Edith Carr, is a veritable Fury from Hell when something gets in her way If you like L.M Montgomery s novels, I think this book is a safe bet for you Porter clearly had a deep love for the Limberlost region, which I had never even heard of before reading this book, and now it feels familiar to me In this beloved landscape, lively and likable characters wander, making mistakes and learning from them, helping each other and honoring God Elnora, like many of her fellow fin de si cle heroines, is pretty and clever and skilled and may sometimes seem implausible But view spoiler , as the last part of the book proves, she can take self sufficiency and propriety too far, to the point that Philip becomes wild with worry and his latent illness is aggravated Granted, she couldn t have known that he would overreact like he did, but a wiser young woman would hopefully have known not to push him that far in the first place hide spoiler