Thursday, July 18, 2013

My Favourite Book: A Little Note in Talk

I don't quite agree that it is possible to have just one favourite book or film or song. But if I had to, at gunpoint, name a book I have always loved, Jean Webster's Daddy-Long-Legs would immediately come to mind. I wrote a little note about the book that was published over a century ago, in last week's issue of Talk magazine.

Read it here or see below.

Here was one book from my early teen years that was just as good and better as its cover was inspiring. A girl in a long, rather chaste nightgown perches up on a windowsill above a chest of drawers, slightly open for her to climb, like a flight of stairs and bends over a book. That cover of Jean Webster’s Daddy-Long-Legs introduced me to a lifelong love of perching up on windowsills to read my books. In no house that I have lived in have I had windows so high that I needed a chest of drawers to reach up, yet, when I think of how I want to spend a beautiful afternoon by myself, it always involves an old house with wide windowsills and the rest of what that edition of the novel had on its cover.

I don’t have a favourite book. Or a favourite song, for that matter. These things change, they are meant to. Yet there is something about this 100-year old novel where everything fits into a near perfect whole. Like the movie Casablanca. Perhaps it is the 
innocence of the story of Jerusha ‘Judy’ Abbott, an orphan who has an anonymous benefactor funding her college education. In exchange she has to write letters to him, which she fills up with childish scrawls, girlie gossip, her dreams, fears and even boy 

Daddy-Long-Legs is a fairy tale, a love story. Like hot milk and cookies on a cold winter afternoon, like vanilla ice-cream in sweltering May, like a flitting butterfly over a bush of wild roses, this novel is about all things nice, simple, sweet and happy. Even 
a century after it was written, the story remains just as fresh and Judy just as relatable. That is what makes it a beloved, timeless classic story.

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