I was excited to read this book. I love old-fashioned nostalgic coming-of-age stories and judging from the reviews, I was in for a treat. However, I found myself disappointed with A Girl of the Limberlost.
Gene Stratton-Porter’s writing style, in my opinion, was lacking. Although the book was written in third person omniscient, the author didn’t take care to give each character his or her own chapter. This created some confusion when following the story. I found that the dialogue was often stilted and long-winded.
The constant friction between Elnora Comstock and her mother, Katherine, grew increasingly tiresome after a while. When the reason for Katherine bitterly and cruel animosity toward Elnora finally became known my first thought was “what the heck?” Elnora was a baby when her father died, how in the heck did Katherine justify this?
Katherine spent a lot of time blaming everyone for her bitterness and problems. This, to me, made her a highly unlikable character. Elnora wasn’t much better. One moment the author had her crying and feeling sorry for herself over her lot in life and the next she was happily telling off the high school popular girls. I didn’t get some of the “good-natured” barbs the characters tossed at one another. Was calling someone a “little pig” or “little idiot” a funny quip back in those days? When little Billy laughingly tells how he and his siblings got even with the family dog for stealing their food (a dead bird) I was mortified.
About halfway through the book, the focus shifts and it seemed to me as though the author could have broken it into two distinct books. The author included a nice amount of conservation and ecological references, which are clearly still important subjects today. Yet, it didn’t save the book for me.
I wouldn’t call this a timeless classic by any means. I have trouble envisioning today’s teens finding much relatable material here. This book was listed as having only 267 pages, yet it seemed far longer. It went off in too many directions and seemed disjointed at times. I didn’t enjoy this book and really can’t recommend it.
3 of 5 Stars, Review by Susan Barton