Re: Elsie Dinsmore ?
- I've been sick and busy and haven't kept up with this list very well, but a few
years ago we had some discussion of Elsie Dinsmore in _Once Upon a Time_, the
children's fantasy apa (no, we didn't think Elsie was a fantasy, at least not in
our usual sense). Like Bernie, I liked the book when I read it in about 5th
grade. I did read a couple of the sequels, too. My grandmother had recommended
them, along with a book called _Merrylips_, which was a historical set in
Commonwealth England, about a sweet little girl. I also liked Burnett's _A
Little Princess_ and _Little Lord Fauntleroy_. But those books had a lot more
character than Elsie, I'm afraid. I read most of the Beany Malone books about
that time, too. I never could really believe in Elsie, though, because she was
impossibly just too put upon and too good through it all. And all of her
relatives, except for one cousin, were too uniformly horrible. Also, _Five Little
Peppers_ (was there only one of those?).
Berni Phillips wrote:
> From: Berni Phillips <bernip@...>
> ERATRIANO@... wrote:
> > My question today is, has anyone heard of the Elsie Dinsmore books by Martha
> > Finley?
> > Lizzie "Princess Airhead"
> (My e-mail connection would send for a day, so I'm posting a bit late on
> I hesitate to admit this, but I loved _Elsie Dinsmore_ as a girl. I
> felt akin to her in her spiritual struggles. What she was trying to be . . . .
- David has about given the wrapup on =Elsie Dinsmore.= I went back to the
site I gave, btw, and it only gets through Chapters 3 and 4. Too bad. I was
looking for the famous chapter where Elsie sits on the piano stool, obeying
her father as far as possible but refusing to play on a Sunday, until she
faints and falls off (!) This made a great impression on my mother, who
recounted it to me, and also on Cornelia Otis Skinner, who in her
autobiographical reminiscences remembers trying a similar scene on her actor
parents, who were amiably mystified but tolerant.
I hope David's not putting FIVE LITTLE PEPPERS in the same bag. It has
spunky children with some interesting obstacles to overcome. Unfortunately,
in the first book, they really overcome them all (by being adopted into the
family of a rich gentleman) and the sequels never measure up, in my opinion.
To answer his question, there were several of these published, but most are
o.p., and I only found two of them at the library when I got in the mood to
look up the Peppers this summer. However, one of those I found answers the
interesting question, "Who did Polly Pepper marry?" -- and I can also give
those who haven't read the sequels the interesting information that Mrs
Pepper, too, married again.
I owned the first book as a child and read it with great interest, being an
only child myself and not having any intimate acquaintance with the kind of
hardscrabble poverty described in FIVE LITTLE PEPPERS. Also I was too young
to get a lot of the period references, and indeed, I am still mystified as to
why an "old boot top" should be one of Davy Pepper's prize possessions, how
cut-up leather could be used to mend a stove, or why, in a New England state
(Massachusetts, if I recall) where public education was perhaps more
prevalent than anywhere else in the country (and all praise to New England
for that), Mrs. Pepper keeps moaning on about not having any money for her
children to go to school.
- ERATRIANO@... wrote: [re Elsie]
> It had occurred to me, despite my difficulties with the book, that since theI haven't read it in 30 years. I honestly can't remember how it ends.
> characterization seems good, it might appeal to someone if it hooked them
> right. I just can't deal with the constantly-beaten-on-poor-little-girl
> thing, which come to think of it is probably just as much "period" as
> "religious," perhaps even more so... I am struggling on determinedly during
> my little snips of reading time. So does it get better?
I just remember her earnest attempts at perfection, her uncle being
younger than her, and things like trying to write with the old-style
pens without making any blots to spoil her pages. It's more the
atmosphere I remember. I can't recall the plot at all.
- Stolzi@... wrote:
> I hope David's not putting FIVE LITTLE PEPPERS in the same bag. It hasIndeed. (I also read a couple of the Pepper books.) What mystified me
> spunky children with some interesting obstacles to overcome.
> I owned the first book as a child and read it with great interest, being an
> only child myself and not having any intimate acquaintance with the kind of
> hardscrabble poverty described in FIVE LITTLE PEPPERS. Also I was too young
> to get a lot of the period references, and indeed, I am still mystified as to
> why an "old boot top" should be one of Davy Pepper's prize possessions, how
> cut-up leather could be used to mend a stove, or why, in a New England state
> (Massachusetts, if I recall) where public education was perhaps more
> prevalent than anywhere else in the country (and all praise to New England
> for that), Mrs. Pepper keeps moaning on about not having any money for her
> children to go to school.
> Mary S
about money and school was _Girl of the Limberlost_ and trying to raise
money to go to high school! Her mother, who was poor, considered it a
- I am rather aghast at Christian homeschoolers of today exposing their
children to Elsie Dinsmore's Mammy Chloe, who wears a spotless turban (of
course) and is given to remarks like "Bress de Lawd, Ah knows Jesus loves
=me=, too, jes' the same as if Ah wuz white." Mammy Chloe can't even pore
over the Bible herself - Elsie has to read it to her.
I suppose the Girl of the Limberlost needed money for suitable clothes and
also transportation - didn't she live a long way from the high school? And I
think maybe in the old days you had to buy your textbooks even if the
education was free.
We were given ours, but had to turn 'em in at the end of the year, so some
got more battered books than others. We were also given, and required to
use, a set of fold-and-stick brown paper book covers printed up by the State;
I find that graven in my memory forever is the lead motto (for State Parks, I
guess) "Education and Recreation in the School of the Great Outdoors."
Never thought 'til now of the irony of reading this over and over as we sat
firmly imprisoned in the School of =Indoors=.
- Since we are wandering somewhat afield just now, I'll mention F. Marion
Just finished an oldie I picked up in a local antique barn for 5 bucks. It's
THE WHITE SISTER by F. Marion Crawford, pub. 1912. Such a sentimental and
romantical brew, ala =Beau Geste=! The frontispiece is a picture of some
well-known actress of the time in the role of The White Sister.
Looked up Crawford on the 'net and it turns out he is remembered today only
for shockers, ghost-stories and the like ("The Screaming Skull" is one of his
top titles). One of the pages where I learned this is a set of links with
the engaging title "Gaslight Fiction" - this seems to cover everything from
shlockmeisters like Crawford to =real= writers of the period such as
Turgenev, Chekhov, or de Maupassant. I wonder who he was. "Francis Marion"
are two good first names for a South Carolinian.
- In a message dated 12/6/99 5:07:13 PM Eastern Standard Time, Stolzi@...
> I hope David's not putting FIVE LITTLE PEPPERS in the same bag.Is this the book I think I remember? I probably read this somewhere between
> It has spunky children with some interesting obstacles to overcome.
> Unfortunately, in the first book, they really overcome them all (by
> being adopted into the family of a rich gentleman) and the sequels
> never measure up, in my opinion. . . I owned the first book as a
> child and read it with great interest, being an only child myself and
> not having any intimate acquaintance with the kind of hardscrabble
> poverty described in FIVE LITTLE PEPPERS.
1960 and 1962. By that point it was way out of fashion, so it was probably
something that my mother had read as a child and had sitting around. Even
then I found the idea that your best hope of getting out of poverty was to be
adopted by a rich man to be strange. I can't call my family poor, more like
struggling working-class. My father made enough working a job and a half
that we might have been middle-class if my parents hadn't been silly enough
to have eight kids.
If I'm remembering the right book, I found it funny when the kids in that
book talked about how "someday our ship will come in". I had never heard
that phrase before (in the meaning of "someday we'll make our fortune"). I
thought that was hilarious. I remember telling my mother, "Mom, our ship
just came in. Unfortunately, it hit the side of the pier and sank." Boy, I
was one snide, cynical little kid. But then I'm also one snide, cynical