Elsie Dinsmore
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#1: Elsie Dinsmore Author: LizBLocation: Oxon, England PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2007 8:49 am
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I have been reading the first Elsie book, and have the following thoughts:

1. Jo must've been really bored to have carried on and read the rest after the first one.

2. Elsie's father puts Jem and Jack's image as stern disciplinarians in a totally different light - compared with him they are model fathers, with excellent relationships with their children. Although, to be fair to him, he does improve somewhat as the book progresses.

3. Elsie is completely wet! I don't mind her devout religion, but does she have to cry sooooo much! I know some people do cry more easily than others, but honestly, she needs someone to follow her around with a mop and bucket.

4. I do feel sorry for her though, because a lot of her family are completely horrid. In fact, if she wasn't so wet and conscientious, I wouldn't be surprised if she murdered half of them in their beds one night.


Does anyone know - are the other books more in the same vein? Does Elsie improve?

#2:  Author: RosalinLocation: Swansea PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2007 9:28 am
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I've read the first one and couldn't face going on to the second one. Maybe I'll give it another go now that you've reminded me.

I have sympathy with Jo when she says she doesn't know enough texts to put them in to her book. Elsie's religion definitely got on my nerves although I admired the way she wouldn't do something she believed to be wrong.

And as for her father Evil or Very Mad I couldn't decide whether I was more annoyed with him for the way he treated Elsie, or her for standing up to him. I actually ended up saying "I'm sure that's child abuse" to my computer a few times Embarassed

He certainly does make Jem and Jack look laid back, casual sorts of fathers. Although Elsie's father does insist on instant, unquestioning obedience. Perhaps Joey and Jack modelled their parenting on him Laughing I don't think we ever see how the young Maynards are trained to it, do we?

#3:  Author: ElleLocation: Peterborough PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2007 11:50 am
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They have a few for sale at Peakirk books and I have been eyeing them thoughtfully. I don't think I will bother with them now having read your comments!

#4:  Author: LizBLocation: Oxon, England PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2007 12:11 pm
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Rosalin wrote:
Although Elsie's father does insist on instant, unquestioning obedience.


He also, at times, gives instant unquestioning punishments when other people make complaints against her, without getting her side of the story first.


Elle wrote:
They have a few for sale at Peakirk books and I have been eyeing them thoughtfully. I don't think I will bother with them now having read your comments!


They're available on Project Gutenberg if you want to look at them for a taster first.

#5:  Author: Cath V-PLocation: Newcastle NSW PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2007 12:22 am
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You think he's bad in the first, you should try the second (Elsie's Holidays at Roselands)!
I have 25 of the 28 titles, and they are curiously addictive. I won't say too much as I don't want to spoil them for anyone....

#6:  Author: JennieLocation: Cambridgeshire PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2007 11:14 am
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I read the first one, and a few of the others, those that are on Project Gutenberg, and can't be bothered with any more.

She was a real watering pot as a child. If they'd installed a desaliantionplant near the house, she could have kept the whole plantation in water.

What I did find admirable was the way they stood up against the Klu KLux Klan.

#7:  Author: Carolyn PLocation: Lancaster, England PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2007 11:49 am
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I have quite a few of the Elsie books, just another little collection of mine...!

Yes, her father is.....brutal to put it politely, and I think he gets worse in the next few when he uses religion to back him up as well. Some of the later ones are rather didactic as they 'teach' lots about American History to the children in them as well as a few other things.

The best ones are definatly the KKK ones, (motherhood I think it is) and the ones with the younger children in. I think the realest character is Lulu Raymond, who is neither unredeemably bad (in our eyes at least) nor a sweet little plaster saint, but actually a bit of both. Her father is as bad as Mr Dinsmore though!

#8:  Author: KatherineLocation: London, UK PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2007 12:34 pm
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Jennie wrote:

What I did find admirable was the way they stood up against the Klu KLux Klan.

I’m all confused now! I thought when Jo and Co read them they were ‘thrilled’ by the Klan’s doings? And we’ve discussed on the board EBD’s lack of condemnation of the KKK. So is it that the Elsie books condemn the KKK? Never read an Elsie book though I may have to hunt them out on PG out of curiosity.

Lulu Raymond? Sounds awfully close to Louise (Lulu) Redmond.

#9:  Author: Kathy_SLocation: midwestern US PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2007 2:35 pm
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For repeated and vehement condemnation of the "Ku Klux outrages," see Elsie's Motherhood. It's astounding that anyone could put Elsie and the KKK in the same paragraph without portraying the latter as the worst of villains. I know it's been suggested that EBD may have only remembered the excitement and not the details, but I have a hard time seeing someone like EBD forgetting, say, the pathos of baby Minerva's* death. Crying or Very sad Maybe she figured everyone was so educated on this subject that of course they would assume the KKK were the bad guys in any acting out? *grasps at straws*

Here's one of the least graphic descriptions from Elsie:
Quote:
He flushed hotly at his grandsire's words and look. "I, sir! I a Ku Klux?" he exclaimed in a hurt, indignant tone, "I a midnight assassin stealing upon my helpless victims under cover of darkness and a hideous disguise? No, sir. How could you think so ill of me? What have I done to deserve it?"


*ETA Shows how good my memory is. Am just rereading, and Minerva was the mother, not the baby (Ben).


Last edited by Kathy_S on Thu Jul 19, 2007 4:29 pm; edited 1 time in total

#10:  Author: RosalinLocation: Swansea PostPosted: Thu Jul 19, 2007 12:15 am
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Cath V-P wrote:
You think he's bad in the first, you should try the second (Elsie's Holidays at Roselands)!
I have 25 of the 28 titles, and they are curiously addictive. I won't say too much as I don't want to spoil them for anyone....


Just read Holidays at Roselands Evil or Very Mad Evil or Very Mad
I had to stop reading and calm down a couple of times when her father got going. Elsie certainly did cry a lot. I'm wondering whether rising sea levels are down to global warming or whether Elsie is to blame.

I have a suspicion that I am going to be addicted to them soon, despite how annoying Elsie actually is, so I may be in trouble once I run out of the Project Gutenburg ones.

I found a list on Wikipedia of all the books in publication order. Does anyone know if this is the same as reading order?

I was most disappointed in this one however, as no-one sang the Red Sarafan. I'm sure nothing else would have worked Laughing

#11:  Author: Cath V-PLocation: Newcastle NSW PostPosted: Thu Jul 19, 2007 1:26 am
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They are extraorinarily addictive - ironically, Motherhood is the only one I haven't read of the early ones as I'm holding out for an early copy, not the 1920s Methuen reprint with 1920s colour frontispieces. So if anybody spots one... big hopeful grin!

And the later ones have pages and pages of US history in great chunks - I think EBD has Joey comment in "Wins the Trick" that Martha Finley 'develops a MISSION' to educate American children about their history.

And there are some lovely later touches, when the younger characters get all up-to-date, and start using telephones and type-writers, which clearly spanners up the time-line quite dramatically.

Shall I raise the vexed question of who marries who, and how to keep the various relationships sorted out? I think not . . . Twisted Evil

#12:  Author: macyroseLocation: Great White North (Canada) PostPosted: Thu Jul 19, 2007 1:45 am
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They are addictive! I've got all the Elsie books as well as the Mildred ones (as well as a photocopy of a thesis called The Saga of Elsie Dinsmore which gives an interesting analysis of the books). I tried once to make a family tree and I think it took quite a few pages taped together. I'm sure Elsie has more namesakes than even Jo! Very Happy

Last edited by macyrose on Thu Jul 19, 2007 1:49 am; edited 1 time in total

#13:  Author: Kathy_SLocation: midwestern US PostPosted: Thu Jul 19, 2007 1:47 am
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One thing about Elsie's none-too-attractive father, though: I don't think he's supposed to be particularly good, at least in the beginning of the series. Isn't she meant to reform him?

Dare I ask what people think of Elsie's husband, compared to, say, Reg?

#14:  Author: Cath V-PLocation: Newcastle NSW PostPosted: Thu Jul 19, 2007 6:11 am
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Ohh, fascinating! I hadn't thought of this before. Of course Mr Travilla was daddy's younger friend and there was a large age difference between him and Elsie - definitely Len and Reg material, although thinking about it the most prominent marriages in EBD (Jem and Madge, Jack and Jo) have quite an age gap. Dick and Mollie, who don't, are offstage as it were. And of course Reg, like Travilla, speaks to Jack before talking to Len, who was 18, like Elsie. And Elsie's husband has known her from the time she was a small child. One major difference is that Reg has to establish his own position in life while Elsie's husband does not.
Oh that's a bit worrying.... does this mean Reg is doomed to an early grave? Laughing

#15:  Author: CarolineLocation: Manchester PostPosted: Thu Jul 19, 2007 8:39 am
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Cath V-P wrote:
Oh that's a bit worrying.... does this mean Reg is doomed to an early grave? Laughing


With any luck..... Twisted Evil Twisted Evil Twisted Evil

#16:  Author: JennieLocation: Cambridgeshire PostPosted: Thu Jul 19, 2007 10:19 am
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Well, we've killed him off several times. But will he stay dead?

#17:  Author: LizBLocation: Oxon, England PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2007 9:37 am
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Cath V-P wrote:
Of course Mr Travilla was daddy's younger friend and there was a large age difference between him and Elsie


I was wondering about that - and from what I've read so far it feels rather icky!

I'm partway through Holidays at Roselands and definitely her father is absolutely awful! I would like to thump him. Or possibly shut him in a closet and forget about him! in white to avoid spoilering anyone.

#18:  Author: macyroseLocation: Great White North (Canada) PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2007 4:11 pm
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Wait till you come to the later books with Captain Raymond! Wink

#19:  Author: Kathy_SLocation: midwestern US PostPosted: Tue Jul 24, 2007 2:55 pm
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I don't think I've read Elsie's Holidays at Roselands before. That has got to be one of the most misleading titles, ever.

Definitely makes Jack's avoidance tactics the smallest of small potatoes.
*carefully avoids temptation to indulge in full spectrum ranting and poking*

*thinks Elsie needs a good long stint at the CS*

#20:  Author: Cath V-PLocation: Newcastle NSW PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2007 2:00 am
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I was a touch puzzled by the title too, Kathy Very Happy

#21:  Author: Kathy_SLocation: midwestern US PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2007 5:00 am
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Rosalin wrote:

I was most disappointed in this one however, as no-one sang the Red Sarafan. I'm sure nothing else would have worked Laughing

For 'Red Sarafan,' substitute 'Happy Land,' as sung by Elsie in Elsie's Womanhood (Vol. 4). Of course, with it being a hymn, the subtext is different, but the physical effect is similar.
LizB wrote:

Does Elsie improve?

Elsie cries less (or at least has more reason when she does so). Also Mr. Travilla is significantly less annoying than Papa, who does seem to have mellowed slightly over Vols 3-4, so on that basis the books are starting to improve.

In Vol. 4 we're up to the Civil War. Funny, back when I first read Elsie Vol 1 I didn't even realize that it was pre-Civil War. It's interesting reading as an adult. This volume has rather different perspectives on causes of the war than those taught in junior high history! I'm especially wondering about the prevalence of the view that power-hungry politicians engineered the whole thing. Was it a common view during the war, or was it something in vogue among those hoping for a peaceful and charitable reconstruction at the time Finley was writing? In some ways Finley's attempts to distinguish the southern people from the secessionists seems similar to EBD's insistence on distinguishing Germans from Nazis.

Something I found particularly hard to fathom was the characters' view of slavery. The same people who seem enlightened enough to tell us that it's a blot on the nation that must be done away with, simultaneously rank abolitionists with murderers and other depraved persons. Or am I muddling who said what? And then there's the idea of "whiteness" for nonwhites in heaven. Did I read that correctly? Shocked

Another scene that jumped out for non-EBD-related reasons was the description of Andersonville (notorious southern prison for northern POWs). The part about trying to stay alive on ground-up corn cobs is exactly what my grandmother's generation heard from her great-uncle Alex, who was one of the lucky survivors. He also is said to have believed in miracles, because a spring broke out in the stockade when they thought they were going to die of thirst. Obviously Martha Finley didn't hear about that one, or I'm sure she'd have found a way to include it....

#22:  Author: ShanderLocation: the wilds of PEI PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2007 2:45 pm
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Unfortunatley,
the 'whiteness" for nonwhites in heaven references were right on. It was a fairly common idea back then, especially in slave holding circles.

#23:  Author: LizBLocation: Oxon, England PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2007 12:38 pm
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Cath V-P wrote:
Of course Mr Travilla was daddy's younger friend and there was a large age difference between him and Elsie


Not just the age gap (I'm not sure I've read how much younger than Daddy he was, but I imagine not much), but the fact that she's 9 years old when he first indicates he wants to marry her!

#24:  Author: Kathy_SLocation: midwestern US PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2007 1:45 pm
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*agrees with Liz*
(though I end up preferring Mr. T to "dear papa." Of course, that wouldn't be difficult.)

Elsie's Girlhood wrote:
"And now may I ask who and what that Mr. Travilla is?"

She explained, winding up by saying that he was much like a second father to her.

"Father!" he exclaimed, "he doesn't look a day over twenty-five."

"He is about two years younger than papa and doesn't look any younger, I think," she answered with a smile. "But strangers are very apt to take papa for my brother."


Papa was 17 when he ran off with Elsie's mother, age 15.

#25:  Author: Alison HLocation: Manchester PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2007 2:00 pm
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Early marriage, certainly for girls, seems to be quite common in most books about the antebellum South Very Happy .

#26:  Author: JennieLocation: Cambridgeshire PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2007 3:39 pm
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It was the only career option for them, apart from being an old maid, so what else could they do?

#27:  Author: macyroseLocation: Great White North (Canada) PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2007 10:55 pm
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Alison H. wrote:
Quote:
Early marriage, certainly for girls, seems to be quite common in most books about the antebellum South.

In Gone With the Wind, Ellen Robillard O'Hara is married at fifteen, her daughter Scarlett at sixteen and Melaine Hamilton Wilkes at seventeen. India Wilkes is considered an old maid at only twenty!

#28:  Author: James PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2007 7:15 am
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I read the first one the other day on Gutenberg after seeing this thread... I started off reading it thinking "Good grief, this is awful!" but got to the stage when it was pretty much into so bad it's good territory...

#29:  Author: JennieLocation: Cambridgeshire PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2007 1:01 pm
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Yes, the sheer, pure awfulness has its own attractions.

#30:  Author: Cath V-PLocation: Newcastle NSW PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2007 1:01 am
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I think it's the emotional intensity that grabs you to start with. And then it's too late... Very Happy

#31:  Author: KatherineLocation: London, UK PostPosted: Sat Aug 11, 2007 6:56 pm
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Wow is she pious! I have only read the first couple of chapters but I really don't think I can stomach the constant lectures. Now the Katy books can get pretty heavy on the srot of thing but I allow it in them and love them (perhaps that's why I allow it and Susan Coolidge had the sense to get us to love Katy first). I think I will be reading them more for curiosity value than anything.

Having said that I am outraged by the sheer horribleness of her family. And Miss Day is a terrible Governess. Her Step-Aunt is awful too, that incident with the purse; she spoilt her own children shockingly. I am stunned that she manages to grow up and have a normal family (I am assuming that she does).

I will be interested to see how it all ends up though but I think I shall stick with the PG ones; I wouldn't spend large sums on them.



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