Young America, a wooden doll, and The Loveliest Place

Book review time!

I read only one of these following books (my thrifted copy of Hitty) in tangible form. Because I sure love my audiobooks. Since I can’t be Belle — in a castle with a giant library and dishes that wash themselves — at least I can wash the dishes while someone reads aloud to me. Still a princess-like luxury, if you think about it.

Here are some brief notes on each of these books. I’d love to know your thoughts if you’ve read any of them, or if you plan to give them a try.

Addy: An American Girl by Connie Porter
I just listened to all 5 of the books in the Addy series (takes about 5 hours). I remember loving them as a young teen, and I still think they are a treasure. I appreciate the glimpse into Civil War era history, the exciting plot and characters, and the emphasis on kindness and forgiveness.
She was always my favorite American girl (but sadly, I never had the Addy doll).

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
The first time I read Jane Eyre I didn’t really care for it, and I didn’t like Mr. Rochester even to the end. I still don’t. But this time through, I better understood the thread of redemption and enjoyed the deep emotion and drama of the storyline. Still not my favorite, but I have a feeling I’ll like it even a little bit better next time I read it.

These Happy Golden Years
by Laura Ingalls Wilder
I enjoyed the relaxing listen to this book, and it was fun seeing Laura as a young woman. It makes sense — her independence streak! It’s also interesting to see Pa and Ma parent a grown-up daughter. This book renewed my interest in the Ingalls family and inspired me to research their journeys. I used to live on that same prairie, after all!

Persuasion by Jane Austen
I had forgotten about the plot twists in this story and also enjoyed watching the movie after. The ending is just so satisfying! Gotta love Captain Wentworth.

Laddie: A True Blue Story by Gene Stratton-Porter
I reaffirmed Laddie as one of my top favorite books (find the one narrated by Laurie Klein). In this book, “Little Sister” commentates all of her large family’s affairs, through her shrewd and wholesome lens of childhood. She sweetly carries her older siblings’ burdens personally, but gets into plenty of mischief of her own. She is a little problem solver and isn’t afraid to tell the truth, even though she hasn’t learned when it’s best to keep quiet and when it’s helpful to speak up. This book is sweet, humorous, romantic, with very lovable characters. I always loved stories about the dynamics of big families and even wished for more details about more of the siblings. But Laddie truly does deserve the center stage and the title, as he’s the best older brother “Little Sister” could ask for.
Bonus observation of the family’s worldview: They are pious and moral people, who work hard, and put a huge emphasis on physical appearance. Both in their affirmation of good looks, and how circumstances will appear to their neighbors. I love the parents’ heart for the least and the lowly; their generosity and care for the outcast is indeed admirable. However, their motivation seems to be a “good work mentality,” trying to earn their salvation.
One of the children, referring to their mother’s constant hospitality, asks:
“‘Mother, have you ever figured out how many hundred sheets you’ve washed?”
Mother said: ‘No, but I just hope it will make a stack high enough for me to climb from into Heaven.” Laddie, Gene Stratton-Porter
This quote illustrates that the outward show of good deeds that Laddie’s family tries to achieve, misses the true heart of God’s grace and gospel. We’re saved for good works, not by them (Titus 3:5).
That being said, I do highly recommend this true, blue early American story as a great family read aloud.

Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace
Sometimes children’s books are too simple, no matter their nostalgia, to hold my interest. I often shelf them for later, to read aloud to my future kids someday.
But this one — is truly a timeless delight. Betsy and Tacy, friends from age five, have endearing imaginations, reminiscent of me and my sisters.
Lovelace wrote off her own early 1900s childhood, weaving history and beauty and humor with each chapter.
In fact, I’m savoring my way through the entire series, and I’ll likely write more on these soon. In the meantime, find a copy of Betsy-Tacy to read to your little girl! Or for your own delightful amusement (if you love beautiful, true-to-life, historical, darling fictional adventures!)

Hitty: Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field
Hitty is a doll fashioned from mountain-ash wood for a little girl in early America, the state of Maine. Through many daring adventures, Hitty maintains her dignity and charm as she is passed frown owner to owner through uncanny events, seeing the country and century pass by. It’s such a charming and witty story, with a rich vocabulary. I think children and adults alike can enjoy the world travels of a doll who becomes an antique, with a memoir of gold to prove it.

The Loveliest Place by Dustin Benge
We all need a refresher on who the church is and why she exists.
We often forget that the church is the Bride of Christ, and she is beautiful and precious. I love how this author dives to the heart of Scripture to draw out the aspects of the Body of Christ. This book helped renew my appreciation for the church and look forward to the day when we’ll forever be with the King. He always keeps His promises to us, and every word He uses to describe His bride will reign true.


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