YA book reviews, reading and recommending since 2009

The last guest blog for the month of March. I meant to post this yesterday but did not have the time to. Diana Peterfreund is the author of Rampant and the Secret Society Girl series. Enjoy!

One of my favorite books that I read when I was younger was called A GIRL OF THE LIMBERLOST, by Gene Stratton Porter. Never heard of it? You’re not alone. Often, when I get into conversations with fellow lovers of L.M. Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables) I bring it up. Crickets. Only once was I successful, and that was because I was talking to a girl from Indiana, a state that apparently counts Stratton Porter—who aside from being an author was also a naturalist photographer and wetlands conservationist—as one of their hometown heroes.

Why haven’t more people read this book? It’s about this awesome girl named Elnora Comstock who rises above neglect and abuse on the country farm where she was raised, goes to high school and college (which she pays for herself by collecting, cataloging, and selling moth and plant specimens in the nearby Limberlost swamp), teaches herself to play the violin, reconciles with her embittered mother, and romances a rich young man from Chicago who comes to the country to recover from “brain fever.” Oh, and there are endless descriptions of marvelous food and fabulous frocks. My goodness, but there are pretty frocks in this book. One is even designed to look like a particularly gorgeous moth. Except it’s worn by the villain. Whatever.

This book ignited my love for historical novels, especially depicting the Gilded Age of America. Now, whenever I read one of the Anna Godbersen books, I think to myself, wouldn’t it be awesome if Diana Holland went off to collect some moths just like Elnora Comstock? (And then made eeeeeeevil Penelope wear a dress she designed at a ball she gives for Henry? Just saying.) And if you were a fan of the later “Anne” books, where Anne goes off to college and engages in all manner of romantic entanglements, you’ll love A Girl of the Limberlost as well.

Food and frocks and family secrets and wetlands conservation, people. Check it out.

Comments on: "Diana Peterfreund on A Favorite “Lost” YA Book" (6)

  1. I read and loved this book. Loved! I’d totally forgotten about it until you brought it up. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. I’m so giddy to have seen this post!

    I have been singing the praises of this book for ages. Gene Stratton Porter is my Grandma’s favorite author and so naturally passed on her love for her novels to me. I love Elnora and all the difficulties she goes through – her mom was truly wretched, wasn’t she? But it’s a wonderful story and I’m happy to see it getting a little love.

  3. For “Anne of Green Gables” lovers? I’m there – this one’s going on my to-read list!

  4. Count me converted too. I love all the Anne books and I adore descriptions of frocks!

  5. Ah! This is one of my most favorite books ever. No, really. If you ask my parents what my favorite book is? They’ll tell you A Girl of the Limberlost. I’ve read it almost 20 times (and heck, I’m only 26!), and it never loses its charm, though of course I find different things to love now that I’m older. I did my own little ode to it here.

  6. I absolutely adored this book growing up – I remember searching it out after finishing all the Anne books and also LM Montgomery’s Emily books…this was recommended to me. I remember absolutely drooling over the dresses, not understanding WHY Edith just couldn’t get the point that Philip didn’t want her, and of course, fantasizing about all the yummy food! There are so many descriptions of meals and preparation that I think I gained weight reading it. I still want to try a dandelion salad, lol!

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