Introducing one of my favorite books of all time: The Girl of the Limberlost. Okay, just to start out with: it’s an oldie. Sometimes, when I mention this in my list of favorite books, people will furrow their brows and looks at me funny. I just say: “It’s an older book,” and their expression clears, but no one has ever read it afterwards. Somehow, books that were not placed in the “classic” category (that is mandatory reading in school, thus ruining their charm), but are too outdated to be read by millennials sit sadly on the library shelf, gathering dust.
Most people do not realize that older books can take you on a wild adventure too! Gene Stratton Porter artfully crafted every bit of this coming of age story, and I believe it deserves to be read. Why? I’m glad you asked. Oh, if you have a kindle, or the kindle app, you can buy this book from amazon for free!
Elnora Comstock has begged her mother to let her go to the high school. Unfortunately, her first day is terrible. She learns that she has to pay for her books and tuition, she is ridiculed for her clothes, and a student spells her name as Cornstalk on purpose. When she returns home, her mother says that she knew Elnora would get over this foolish fancy of hers, and remain home with her.
Everything seems terrible, until Elnora discovers that she can collect the rare moths that dwell in the Limberlost, a large swampy forest right beside her home, and sell them in order to pay for her books. Slowly, Elnora discovers the forest’s many secrets, including the reason why her mother has not loved her as she should.
Elnora Comstock: Main character. She is one motivated girl. She wants to attend high school, so she’ll spend her free time in a muddy swamp collecting caterpillars, moths, Indian arrowheads, and other things. She wonders why her mother does not love her anymore, but somewhere in her life, Elnora stopped loving her back.
Katharine Comstock: Mother to MC. This is an amazing story about the mother and the daughter learning to love each other. Katharine is quite the grouchy, stingy, mean mother, but she grows so much throughout the story.
Uncle Wesley and Aunt Margaret: The mentors. Neighbor Uncle Wesley tries throughout the book to get some sense into Katharine Comstock’s thick head. He knew Katharine before she became bitter, and tries to remind her of her daughter. He loves Elnora like his own daughter, and will do anything he possibly can for her. Aunt Margaret (his wife) loves the girl just as much, and is willing to help the girl in anyway she can.
The Bird Woman: A sweet lady who has a penchant for anything from the Limberlost, especially the moths. She buys the things Elnora collects, helping Elnora stay in high school. She steps in as the mother when Katharine is not there for Elnora.
Billy: Comedic Relief. My hands down favorite character. Young Billy lives with his two younger siblings with his alcoholic father. They are lucky to eat, and when they do, it is almost always bologna. Elnora offers him her lunch one day, and the two strike up a friendship, despite the age difference. He has a little sailor mouth, but he never says anything terrible.
Philip: A man who comes to the Limberlost for the climate to heal. He visits Elnora and Katharine quite often, and helps Elnora look for moths and caterpillars. He is engaged to Edith Carr, a rich, pompous girl who is used to having things go her way.
This is an oldie, as previously warned, and the plot can be a little slow moving at parts. We have a few characters that seem to be of no real purpose in the story, but we still get their backstory. Elnora keeps many secrets from her mother, including a violin that used to belong to her father. She plays it well, but does not tell her mother. A man looks through Elnora’s bedroom window at night, but nothing else is mentioned.