Saturday, January 8, 2011

Understood Betsy

Joffre recently picked up an old (copyright 1916) children's story from the thrift store for Renata.I usually check out the books for her and our concern about old books directed at girls is that they may treat women/girls as stupid or have too much sentimentality. So I started reading and was so delighted I read the whole story and told Joffre he should read it too. He picked it up and read the whole thing too. He said he couldn't believe how much he enjoyed it. It is apparently a classic but I hadn't heard of it.

Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield is the name of the book and it is about a little girl orphaned as a baby. She is immediately given a home by an aunt and her grown spinster daughter . They are protecting her from other cousins who also offer her a home but they deem very unsuitable for caring for children. The girl grows and is very very coddled and protected from all difficulties by the aunt and cousin. One of them becomes sick and through strange events the girl is sent to stay with the "unsuitable" cousins in the country. The girl learns she is expected to do things for herself and even enjoy doing things for herself.  A series of events happen that force her to reason out how to deal with difficulties and who to look to as an example of good reason. She learns about work and the satisfaction of learning to do a job well. Gossip and modesty about charity are addressed. She is treated kindly but in almost sly ways in order to bring her out of herself. It is so well done with, of course, a happy ending.

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