Posts Tagged ‘marthafinley’


The Two Elsies and Elsie’s Kith and Kin

April 8, 2008

I haven’t been keeping up with writing about the Elsie books as I read them, but let’s forget about that and skip to book #11, The Two Elsies. The two Elsies in question are probably the original Elsie and her eldest daughter, but neither of them is particularly central to the story and several people have babies named Elsie at this point.

Anyway, a little background: in book #8, Elsie’s second daughter and third child, Violet, married Captain Raymond, a naval man and a widower with three children. Captain Raymond is away at sea much of the time, so Elsie and her father — he and his wife kind of moved in with Elsie after Mr. Travilla died in book #7 — say that the kids can come live with them (Violet is continuing to live at home, too). Max, the eldest, is kind of hasty and impulsive, but basically a good kid. Lulu has a bad temper that she has trouble controlling (in other words, she has a backbone, which means that she’s kind of alone in this series) but she is also scrupulously honest. Grace is a sickly but gentle little girl who soon becomes nearly as religious as Elsie was at her age. At this point, the books start to focus in on Lulu and her father, reworking the father daughter relationship that was so creepy in the earliest Elsie books, except that in this version, Lulu is pretty much always in the wrong, and also there’s a fair amount of corporal punishment, described in more detail than I wanted to read. Read the rest of this entry ?


Elsie’s Motherhood

February 28, 2008

Elsie’s Motherhood is kind of weird because it’s sort of all about the Ku Klux Klan. Seriously.

The Civil War is over; Elsie has used her ridiculously large fortune to rebuild not only Ion, the Travilla plantation, but also the plantations of, like, all her friends and family. But only if they’re good Christians, I guess, so the Travillas’ near neighbors the Fosters are forced to sell their plantation to a northern family named Leland and move into a tiny shack. I would’ve thought the price of a plantation, even a post-Civil War cheap plantation, would be enough to pay for a new home that wasn’t, like, a hut, especially since the Lelands are Elsie’s sort of people and would likely have given more than the place was worth. But apparently not. Read the rest of this entry ?


Elsie’s Womanhood

February 7, 2008

Elsie’s Womanhood is kind of bizarre and segmented. First there’s the bit where Elsie and Mr. Travilla tell everyone that they’re engaged, and the reactions are an entertaining mix of not at all surprised and disturbed by the age difference. Which, you know, was pretty much my reaction too. This bit also includes Elsie’s uncle Arthur — you know, the one who set Tom Jackson on her — telling her that he wouldn’t mind marrying her himself. It’s as if the fact that her father has allowed her to become engaged has left a vaguely incestuous blank that desperately needed to be filled. And now that’s been done, so let’s move on. Read the rest of this entry ?


Elsie’s Girlhood

February 6, 2008

When Elsie’s Girlhood begins, Elsie and her father are traveling with Rose Allison and her brother Edward. Rose had paid a visit to the Dinsmores at Roselands before Mr. Dinsmore returned from Europe, and because they were the only two serious Christians in the house — not counting the slaves, of course — they became very good friends. And since Mr. Dinsmore is now an avid Christian too, and because Rose is very attractive, and because something needs to be done to save him from the designing Miss Stevens, they fall in love and get engaged. Elsie is very pleased, and gladly promises to call Rose “mamma”.

So Mr. Dinsmore and Rose get married and go back to The Oaks, and they and Elsie live very happily together. One day Elsie comes downstairs for breakfast or something and finds her father sitting there alone.

Elsie: Where is mamma?

Mr. D: Oh, upstairs. But look at what I’ve got here!

Elsie: A baby! But where did it come from?

Mr. D: It’s your brother!
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Elsie Dinsmore and Holidays at Roselands

January 31, 2008

Okay, I should really be working on this week’s assignment for my thesis class, but first I need to talk a little about Elsie Dinsmore.

It should come as a surprise to no one that I’m writing my thesis on old children’s books — girls’ series, mostly from the early 20th century — and this week I’ve been reading the first couple of Elsie Dinsmore books. The Elsie books were written my Martha Finley and ran from 1867 to 1905. There are 28 books, but Elsie is a grandmother by book eight. Actually a grandmother, as opposed to behaving like a grandmother, which she does right from the beginning.
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