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Elsie's Womanhood

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It is a time for celebration as Elsie prepares to marry her beloved Edward. Following their wedding, the happy couple honeymoon at Viamede, childhood home of Elsie's mother in the Bayou region of Louisiana. Here Elsie's faith matures, and she learns to share her beliefs with others in a meaningful way. Four children--Elsie, Edward, Violet, and Harold--are born t It is a time for celebration as Elsie prepares to marry her beloved Edward. Following their wedding, the happy couple honeymoon at Viamede, childhood home of Elsie's mother in the Bayou region of Louisiana. Here Elsie's faith matures, and she learns to share her beliefs with others in a meaningful way. Four children--Elsie, Edward, Violet, and Harold--are born to Elsie and Edward, who experience the joys and heart-aches of parenthood. Meanwhile, the country teeters on the brink of civil war. Mindful of the tragedies unfolding around her, Elsie is touched by the painful divisions brought on by the War Between the States and the devastating loss of family and friends that accompanies it.


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It is a time for celebration as Elsie prepares to marry her beloved Edward. Following their wedding, the happy couple honeymoon at Viamede, childhood home of Elsie's mother in the Bayou region of Louisiana. Here Elsie's faith matures, and she learns to share her beliefs with others in a meaningful way. Four children--Elsie, Edward, Violet, and Harold--are born t It is a time for celebration as Elsie prepares to marry her beloved Edward. Following their wedding, the happy couple honeymoon at Viamede, childhood home of Elsie's mother in the Bayou region of Louisiana. Here Elsie's faith matures, and she learns to share her beliefs with others in a meaningful way. Four children--Elsie, Edward, Violet, and Harold--are born to Elsie and Edward, who experience the joys and heart-aches of parenthood. Meanwhile, the country teeters on the brink of civil war. Mindful of the tragedies unfolding around her, Elsie is touched by the painful divisions brought on by the War Between the States and the devastating loss of family and friends that accompanies it.

30 review for Elsie's Womanhood

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lana Del Slay

    Elsie's Womanhood Martha Finley 1875 NUTSHELL: I can't rate this! It's so bad it's awesome! Elsie, Elsie, Elsie. I've given up on taking anything Martha Finley wrote seriously. Instead, I will deliver up the choicest bits, which you can discover for yourself (and many more!) at Project Gutenberg. (view spoiler)["Travilla; after years of patient waiting he has won her at last—our darling—and—and I've givenone">["Travilla; Elsie's Womanhood Martha Finley 1875 NUTSHELL: I can't rate this! It's so bad it's awesome! Elsie, Elsie, Elsie. I've given up on taking anything Martha Finley wrote seriously. Instead, I will deliver up the choicest bits, which you can discover for yourself (and many more!) at Project Gutenberg. (view spoiler)["Travilla; after years of patient waiting he has won her at last—our darling—and—and I've given her to him." Travilla is Elsie's father's friend. They're roughly the same age. This would explain why "Elsie's Widowhood" comes before "Grandmother Elsie" in the series, wouldn't it? Also, Elsie's maybe twenty-one here. Man, I hope those years of patient waiting weren't very long... Of course, everyone in the book has to weigh in on Elsie and Travilla's age difference. At last, she says this, with which I wholeheartedly agree: "Some people seem like wine—to improve with age [. . . ]." As well as this: "I would not have him a day younger, except that he would like to be nearer my age, or different in any way from what he is[.]" Some of my favorite lines belong to Aunt Wealthy Stanhope (misidentified in one review as "Elsie's wealthy Aunt Stanhope" -- well, no, not exactly.) "The doctor's as busy as ever, killing people all round the country; he's very successful at it" made me wonder if the doctor in question was a nineteenth-century Kevorkian. "Ah, funerals are almost as sad as weddings. I don't know how people can ever feel like dancing at them" also gave me a chuckle. I think I'd like dancing at my funeral, thanks very much! I only wish this were half as interesting as it sounded: They were alone in Elsie's boudoir, but when an hour had slipped rapidly away there came a message from Mr. Dinsmore to the effect that their company would be very acceptable in the library. Poor Travilla. I mean, obviously he'd have liked more than one hour. The true romance of this series to date has been, as readers will know, between Elsie and her father. To wit: "Well, dearest," he said, after a moment, in which he held her very close and caressed her with exceeding tenderness, "we shall not be far apart or miss passing some time together many days of the year. And you are not in haste to leave me?" And upon arrival at Elsie's property in New Orleans, Viamede: "Yes, sir. Papa dear, welcome, welcome to my house; the dearest guest that could come to it." And wiping away her tears, she lifted her loving eyes to his, a tender smile playing about the sweet lips. "Save one," he answered half-playfully, passing his hand caressingly over her hair, and bending down to press his lips on brow, and cheeks, and mouth. "Is not that so?" Oh, but I'm saving the best for her wedding day. "My darling!" murmured the father, in low, half tremulous accents, putting his arm about the slender waist, "my beautiful darling! how can I give you to another?" and again and again his lips were pressed to hers in long, passionate kisses. Uh. Yeah. Now you know why I can ship Elsie/Travilla without getting groomer vibes off the latter: he's positively sane compared to Daddy Dearest. (Aside: Daddy/Daughter kink for the steam age? You decide! Elsie's totally submissive to everything in pants, so it ain't that farfetched...) Elsie's still wearing an awful lot of white throughout and even after her honeymoon. Most of me thinks, yeah, she looked good in white, but part of me wonders if Elsie would've taken intimacy as slowly as falling in love! Imagine what a shock sex might've been, if the longest kisses she's shared so far have been with her father. (For sanity's sake, please imagine it that way, in fact.) At this point, I imagine Elsie was quite disappointed: "Hush, hush!" he said flushing, "I meant to have that left out; and did I not tell you you were to have your own way that night and ever after? You've already done enough of obeying to last you a lifetime. But please come round where I can see you better." Then, as she stepped to his side, he threw an arm about her and drew her to his knee. "But it wasn't left out," she said, shyly returning his fond caress; "I promised and must keep my word." "Ah, but if you can't, you can't; how will you obey when you get no orders?" "So you don't mean to give me any?" "No, indeed; I'm your husband, your friend, your protector, your lover, but not your master." Shoot, I would be. But Edward Travilla is quite vanilla, as Aunt Wealthy says at one point. He positively insists on equality between them: "Does it satisfy you, my little wife?" he asked, in tones that spoke intense enjoyment of her pleasure. Good lord, he's saying that in front of his mom. Somehow, about eleven months after the wedding, Elsie's got an infant in her room. Graphic accounts of gunshot wounds? Totally cool by Mrs. Finley. Pregnancy? Eeek! Going on the baby's age, she must have been conceived in short order. So all that wearing of white was a style choice. Neat. Finley has been foreshadowing the Civil War throughout, quite subtly, I find; this passage exemplifies her skill at it: "I have a very good offer for your New Orleans property, daughter," said Mr. Dinsmore; "shall I accept it?" "Do you think it advisable, papa? and you, Edward? I have great confidence in your judgments." "We do; we think the money could be better and more safely invested in foreign stock; but it is for you to decide, as the property is yours." "More safely invested? I thought I had heard you both say real estate was the safest of all investments." "Usually," replied her father, "but we fear property there is likely to depreciate in value." If by "depreciate in value" you mean "get razed by Yankees", sure. I bet there are a fair few homeowners today who wish they had Dinsmore and Travilla's crystal ball. So Mrs. T, Travilla's mother, gets sick and dies. My money's on metastatic, inoperable cancer; Mrs. T has a slow, painful decline, which diabetes really couldn't offer back in the day. Somewhere in all that, Elsie's pregnant again; she gives birth a week after her mother-in-law dies. Oy. Every time she has a kid, they treat her like she's breakable. Dinsmore lost Elsie senior (yes, Elsie is the second in a line of three) right after she gave birth at, oh gods, sixteen and two weeks. Compared to that, Travilla married an old maid. Childbirth and Elsie apparently don't get on well; she takes her sweet time recovering, and I'm getting a hint of post-partum depression from "You want change, daughter," Mr. Dinsmore said, coming in one morning and finding her lying pale and languid on a sofa; "and we are all longing to have you at home. Do you feel equal to a drive over to the Oaks?" In the real world, of course, a bit of inter-plantation travel doesn't cure a damn thing, but it works great on Elsie. So, too, does a subsequent trip to Europe. In 1860. Somehow I don't think they'll ever see their plantations again. Just as well, though, because the Dinsmores and Travillas are all pro-Union. They have family on both sides, which is heartbreaking, but they also have money out the ol' posterior, so Elsie can afford to lend a bit to the war effort and still be comfortable waiting out the war in Europe. The worst scare they have there is baby Elsie's seizure. Ignorance was bliss back then; Dinsmore's wife, Elsie's stepmother, blithely mentions that her sisters had seizures all the time as kids. Because the kid's a Dinsmore by blood, of course this seizure kicks off an illness, and of course the illness almost kills the baby. Almost. Don't worry; the youngest Elsie has her own adventures waiting in future books. Elsie number two promptly makes another baby, just in case. Meanwhile, back on the farm, Dinsmore's most decent sibling, Walter, goes to war and dies. Ouch. But Elsie makes sure he's Saved! Nobody's spared in that respect, really; almost everyone we've met so far loses someone. Oh, and Dinsmore's actually upset over the Emancipation Proclamation because he's going to be poorer without his slaves. Again, oy. Travilla has the bright idea to actually pay their people to work, though he's not entirely sure they'll take the money (!), which cheers the old man up a little bit. Two years later, the war ends, everyone comes home, and we find out just how Walter bit it: escaping from Andersonville, where one of Elsie's many admirers, Harold Allison (stepmother Rose's brother. Yeah, I know) catches his death. Again, magical new baby! Prison camp? A mere bagatelle. Pregnancy? OH NOES THINK OF TEH CHILDRUN. Miraculously, Viamede survives the war intact. What? I guess not selling before they went to Europe paid off. Just as well, because everyone else's homes have been ravaged like Catherine Coulter's early heroines. Harold dies. Nobody notices. We catch up with Dinsmore's kin. His father's a widower, his sister a widow twice over -- married two Confederates -- and oh yes: she's just as rude as ever. Eh. I like that she sticks up for herself as a surviving child when Dinsmore Senior (!!) laments the loss of his precious sons, but otherwise she's a repellent character. By the end of the book, it's 1867, Elsie's thirty-one as far as I know, and Travilla's as madly in love with her as ever. Of course he's not going to get fifty more years to tell her so, but he wishes for them anyway. He's a real sweetheart. I should also, at some point, mention that he does have a first name (Edward) but I kept flashing back to Twilight every time I tried to use it, so he's stuck being Travilla to me. Sorry, mate. No review of this book is complete without at least mentioning the fact that it is a product of its time. Doubtless Mrs. Finley remembered the era of which she wrote -- this is the antebellum fantasy to end all antebellum fantasies. Attitudes we know are racist today were accepted then, though Elsie tries to treat her slaves as people within the confines of her worldview. She works to reunite families where she can, and opines that such reunions are worth many thousands of dollars; in pre-Civil War terms, that must have sounded positively abolitionist. (Undone, of course, pages later: "But some amount of patience with the natural slowness of the negro is a necessary trait in the character of an overseer who wishes to remain in my employ.") I hate, hate, hate the practice of setting the people of color apart by their speech, but it was customary then, so I'm gritting my teeth and forging on ahead. I like to think perhaps the characters are putting on a show and laughing behind their hands at all of those silly white people -- which may or may not fly in the face of history. Thank God the other ones are set well after 1863. Elsie Dinsmore, eternal figure of fun. O. Henry made fun of her, and now, so can I -- but I rib with love. Like I said, I ship Elsie and her husband. They're darling together. I like this book best of the ones I've read; sure, it has a few too many B-plots, but if you ignore those (which you can without losing much), this is a great little yarn. (hide spoiler)]

  2. 4 out of 5

    Bkwyrm

    Yep. Still reading them. Don't ask me why.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Amy Rae

    I picked up Elsie's Womanhood because I'd never read an Elsie Dinsmore book and felt like I should--and specifically because the summary for this book said she had babies in it, and I'm always here for marriage and babies. I figured this would be a duller Anne's House of Dreams, because what popular culture tells you about Elsie Dinsmore is this: Elsie Dinsmore is a goody-two-shoes Christian who always does the right thing and has very boring adventures. If you check out Wikipedia's Elsie Dinsmore in popular culture, y I picked up Elsie's Womanhood because I'd never read an Elsie Dinsmore book and felt like I should--and specifically because the summary for this book said she had babies in it, and I'm always here for marriage and babies. I figured this would be a duller Anne's House of Dreams, because what popular culture tells you about Elsie Dinsmore is this: Elsie Dinsmore is a goody-two-shoes Christian who always does the right thing and has very boring adventures. If you check out Wikipedia's Elsie Dinsmore in popular culture, you'll notice that she was shorthand in old Hollywood for naive young ladies. I thought this meant I was getting into something didactic but ultimately bland. I was wrong. And the reason I was wrong is because of everything popular culture doesn't tell you about Elsie Dinsmore, starting with issue number one: she's a fucking slave owner. Lucky me, I landed on the book in which the Civil War happens and Martha Finley's Reconstruction-era romanticism is in full flower. Elsie Dinsmore, as mentioned, is a good young lady who always does the right thing--the problem being that the right thing is defined by a horrifyingly outdated set of morals that's presented as unimpeachable in its goodness. You would be forgiven for being uncertain at first whether Elsie's family owns slaves or not, because they're consistently referenced in euphemism. "They had come to spend the day, and bonnets and shawls had already been carried away by the servants in attendance." and "She was full of plans for the comfort and profit of her people, but all to be subject to his approval." are the two phrases used most commonly in the book. Your confusion will probably be cleared up when she buys two more slaves over the course of the novel, and not a word goes to manumission. The fact that she's purchased them, by the way, is proof of her righteousness in this book, because she's buying the husband and grandchild of her "mammy." By owning these human beings, Elsie's actually doing them a favour, in the eyes of the narrative, because she's reuniting a family broken apart by greedier masters. • ""Well yes; my daughter is fond of her old mammy, and for her sake would be willing to give a reasonable sum [for Joe, a slave on the ship they're riding]. What do you ask?"" • "Mr. Dinsmore's man John, Aunt Chloe, and Uncle Joe, went with them; and it was a continual feast for master and mistress to see the happiness of the poor old couple, especially when their grandchild Dinah, their only living descendant so far as they could learn, was added to the party; Elsie purchasing her, according to promise, as they passed through New Orleans on their return trip." Needless to say, Elsie is only righteous when she can afford to be. When she arrives at the Louisiana sugar plantation she owns and sees the overseer whipping a female slave, she's ready to fire him. Her father steps in with what's presented as good common sense, however: "Mr. Dinsmore shook his head gravely. "It would not do, my child. The sugar-making season will shortly begin; he understands the business thoroughly; we could not supply his place at a moment's notice, or probably in a number of months, and the whole crop would be lost. We must not be hasty or rash, but remember the Bible command, 'Let your moderation be known unto all men.' Nor should we allow ourselves to judge the man too hardly."" So instead she undertakes to reform him instead. Every scene at the sugar plantation is painful to sit through; it's full of dialogue straight out of a minstrel show and discussions of slaves as childlike "creatures" in desperate need of a white owner to guide them in all things: "In the six weeks of their stay, "Massa" an' "Missus" had become very dear to those warm, childlike hearts." None of this is surprising when you actually know when these books are set, but coming from the perspective of wanting something nice to follow up Daddy-Long-Legs, it was cold water to the face. I turned it on 1.2x speed in hopes of getting through the fucking thing, however, because I wanted to see how Finley handled the Civil War. The answer is "badly," obviously, but I needed the deets. She leans on the idea that the South probably would have gotten rid of slavery eventually, because as good Christians, they understood that their actions and godly consciences didn't align. However, because the North was pushy about it, the South dug its heels in as a natural, understandable consequence. It's typical "the South will rise again" claptrap, essentially, but you'd honestly be better off reading Gone with the Wind, because at least people tell Scarlett O'Hara off once in a while. People who disagree with Elsie Dinsmore are straight-up villains; there's a dude in this book who keeps trying to kill her (admittedly, that's not a great thing to do, but the way it's written is so dumb) and ends up starving to death in Andersonville and presumably going to Hell as his ultimate punishment. But I'm getting off-track. So anyway, the Dinsmore family is over in Italy during the war, and when the Emancipation Proclamation is issued, they do at least tell the slaves they have there. The slaves then beg for reassurance that they'll still be able to stay with the Dinsmores, with one going so far as to weep over that hateful freedom Lincoln declared: ""Dis chile don't want no freedom," sobbed the poor old creature at length, "she lubs to b'long to her darlin' young missis: Uncle Joe he sing an' jump an' praise de Lord, 'cause freedom come, but your ole mammy don't want no freedom; she can't go for to leave you, Miss Elsie, her bressed darlin' chile dat she been done take care ob ever since she born."" Based on the race issues alone, I think this book is a nightmare. But even if you set aside the race issues, Elsie is terrifyingly submissive towards her father. • "But, dear papa, please remember I am still your own child, and ready to submit to your authority, whenever you see fit to exert it." • ""Dear, dear papa," was all she said in response, but her eyes spoke volumes. "I am yours still, your very own, and glad it is so," they said." • ""Forgive me, dear papa," she said, laying her head on his shoulder, and fondly stroking his face with her pretty white hand. "Please consider yourself master there as truly as at the Oaks, and as you have been for years; and understand that your daughter means to take no important step without your entire approval."" • "Come to grandpa," he said, holding out his hands to the little one; then as he took her in his arms, "My dear daughter, if I had any authority over you now——" "Papa," she interrupted, blushing deeply, while the quick tears sprang to her eyes, "you hurt me! Please don't speak so. I am as ready now as ever to obey your slightest behest." Moreover, while the way Finley writes Elsie and her father showing affection might not be completely out there for the times, to say it's aged badly is an understatement. The undertones are creepy and incestuous, and they're Elsie-specific in a way that's never demonstrated towards Elsie's younger siblings. • "[S]he did not hear a step approaching from behind; but an arm encircled her waist, and a low-breathed "My darling" woke her from her reverie." • ""I know it, my darling," he said, passing an arm about her waist, as they stood together in front of the fire, and gazing fondly down into the sweet fair face." • ""My darling!" murmured the father, in low, half tremulous accents, putting his arm about the slender waist, "my beautiful darling! how can I give you to another?" and again and again his lips were pressed to hers in long, passionate kisses." • "Her father passed his arm about her waist and made her rest her head upon his shoulder." • ""Save one," he answered half-playfully, passing his hand caressingly over her hair, and bending down to press his lips on brow, and cheeks, and mouth. " • ""And my father knows I will obey him," she said, tremulously lifting his hand to her lips." • ""My good-night kiss, papa," she whispered, putting her arms about his neck. "My dear darling! my precious, precious child! how glad I am to be able to give it to you once more, and to take my own from your own sweet lips," he said, clasping her closer. "God bless you and keep you, and ever cause His face to shine upon you."" Adding to this creepiness is the fact that this book was written pre-good and bad secrets. A major lesson in this book is that you should never break an oath, even when you were forced to swear it: "Not yet," he answered, tightening his grasp, and at the same time taking a pistol from his pocket. "I swear you shall never marry that man: promise me on your oath that you'll not, or—I'll shoot you through the heart; the heart that's turned false to me. D'ye hear," and he held the muzzle of his piece within a foot of her breast. Every trace of color fled from her face, but she stood like a marble statue, without speech or motion of a muscle, her eyes looking straight into his with firm defiance. "Do you hear?" he repeated, in a tone of exasperation, "speak! promise that you'll never marry Travilla, or I'll shoot you in three minutes—shoot you down dead on the spot, if I swing for it before night." "That will be as God pleases," she answered low and reverently; "you can have no power at all against me except it be given you from above." "I can't, hey? looks like it; I've only to touch the trigger here, and your soul's out o' your body. Better promise than die." Still she stood looking him unflinchingly in the eye; not a muscle moving, no sign of fear except that deadly pallor. "Well," lowering his piece, "you're a brave girl, and I haven't the heart to do it," he exclaimed in admiration. "I'll give up that promise; on condition that you make another—that you'll keep all this a secret for twenty-four hours, so I can make my escape from the neighborhood before they get after me with their bloodhounds." "That I promise, if you will be gone at once." "You'll not say a word to any one of having seen me, or suspecting I'm about here?" "Not a word until the twenty-four hours are over." [SO HE LEAVES AND EVENTUALLY SHE GOES HOME AND HER FATHER FINDS HER] "And you are trembling like an aspen leaf," he said, bending over her in serious alarm. "My child, when did this come on? and what has caused it?" "Papa, I cannot tell you now, or till to-morrow, at this hour; I will then. But oh, papa dear, dear papa!" she cried, putting her arm about his neck and bursting into hysterical weeping, "promise me, if you love me promise me, that you will not leave the house till I have told you. I am sick, I am suffering; you will stay by me? you will not leave me?" "My darling, I will do anything I can to relieve you, mentally or physically," he answered in tones of tenderest love and concern. "I shall not stir from the house, while to do so would increase your suffering. I perceive there has been some villainy practised upon you, and a promise extorted, which I shall not ask you to break; but rest assured, I shall keep guard over my precious one." Elsie keeps her promise not to tell anyone about the man's whereabouts (he's the one who starves to death, BTW), and by doing so shows that she's a true Christian--because, of course, true Christians should never break promises they made at gunpoint. This is resoundingly disturbing in context of Elsie's general submission to her father. I hate to pearl-clutch, but I genuinely find this sentiment dangerous to young girls potentially reading this. These books could easily be used to reinforce grooming and normalize inappropriate relationships between adults and children; the man she marries in this book tells her, "Ah! I wish you were ten years older," in the first Elsie Dinsmore book, when she's eight years old. Even without active grooming, they reinforce a worldview in which girls should keep every promise they're forced to make and do whatever men in authority say. That's still an equation that provides ample opportunity for predators to take advantage of the morality on display in Finley's writing. As recently as nine years ago, there was an effort to repackage Elsie Dinsmore and various other characters into what was essentially a conservative American Girl line called A Life of Faith, featuring dolls, clothing, and somewhat updated books. This series might not be mainstream anymore, but they're still considered classics in many conservative Christian homes. While A Life of Faith's publisher is out of business, the original books aren't out of print. And that's why this review is enormous. Because it's not enough to tell you that this book is racist, sexist, creepy, and--frankly--poorly written. (We haven't even touched on how glurgy the death scenes are.) I want to show everyone I know in hopes of keeping the Elsie Dinsmore books off of a few more little girls' bookshelves. Frankly, I think the books ought to be categorized as adult fiction in libraries these days; they're as worthy of study as any book that romanticizes the antebellum South, but I don't think they belong anywhere near their original target age group. If you want a book full of real virtue and heart, please consider Sugar by Jewell Parker Rhodes instead. Sugar is also set on a sugar plantation in the deep South, but it provides a far less "Old Folks at Home" view of slavery and features a main character who's full of courage, compassion, curiosity, and determination. I'd much rather people read about her than Elsie any day. And since I'm now morbidly obsessed with Elsie freaking Dinsmore, please enjoy some other articles and blog posts on how unsettling these books are: • An Era That Needed to End • Vision Distortion: Elsie Dinsmore • What Not to Read: Elsie Dinsmore

  4. 5 out of 5

    R.F. Gammon

    I think this is the one where the series started to go downhill for me.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tara Lynn

    I find that as I read or re-read classic literature from every age, my patience for certain topics or pieces has definitely increased with age. While I would never say I was a devout fan of any "ism", I would think that feminists, as well as people who believe in equality would have had a great deal of trouble reading this series. I can understand the period in which the pieces were written; and that the limited experience of the author would have made it's mark on the novels. While I can find e I find that as I read or re-read classic literature from every age, my patience for certain topics or pieces has definitely increased with age. While I would never say I was a devout fan of any "ism", I would think that feminists, as well as people who believe in equality would have had a great deal of trouble reading this series. I can understand the period in which the pieces were written; and that the limited experience of the author would have made it's mark on the novels. While I can find each story to be a sweet simple piece, perfectly suited to little girls, the constant references to "gentle and obedient darkies," and the long suffering piety of Elsie herself drive me to give it only three stars. She seems so much less than what a normal girl of her age would have been, even given the constraints of upbringing and the period itself. Having read the earlier novels and seen the near-martyrdom she experienced at the hands of a self-absorbed and utterly fastidious father, I would almost say that I find her obedience to be less natural in form, and more acutely a symptom of PTSD. Rather like Melanie Wilkes, the unsung heroine of Gone With the Wind, the overwhelming gentle piety and good humor without any rancor in the face of all events is trying to the reader. However, unlike Elsie, Melanie presents a great counterpoint to the other more volatile characters around her, allowing them to use her as a living conscience. Elsie's stories are often too flat, and the characters two-dimensional to give them as much emotional value as those in GWtW. I think I'll continue on with the series, if only to have something to do at work, and to marvel at the notion that these books were considered "classic" reading for children.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    ELSIE'S WOMANHOOD is #4 in the series and I must admit that Elsie, despite all her dreadfulness, has become my favorite heroine. She's all grown up now, at least physically, and of course she's still beautiful and pious and sweet. She's married too, to the adoring Mr. Travilla who treats her like the emotional child she is. Once wed, she becomes the perfect Victorian wife. She also begins having babies, one child every two years by my reckoning. How this happens seems a matter of some question, ELSIE'S WOMANHOOD is #4 in the series and I must admit that Elsie, despite all her dreadfulness, has become my favorite heroine. She's all grown up now, at least physically, and of course she's still beautiful and pious and sweet. She's married too, to the adoring Mr. Travilla who treats her like the emotional child she is. Once wed, she becomes the perfect Victorian wife. She also begins having babies, one child every two years by my reckoning. How this happens seems a matter of some question, since Elsie's union is "disturbed by no feverish heat of passion." Notwithstanding the beautiful, dimpled babies keep on appearing. The real question is, how will Elsie's Papa deal with losing his beloved daughter to another? And the melodrama continues, with an armed gunman threatening Elsie's very life in a scene that's worthy of any Penny Dreadful... This book moves us into the Civil War era, with the Southern states seceding from the Union. Elsie shows a certain naivete about the pending conflict, not quite understanding what the politics are all about. She sees nothing wrong with slavery and considers the Abolitionists to be "overly judgmental." In one passage she praises nineteenth-century America, denying that there's any oppression whatsoever in her glorious land. Statements like this betray her own ignorance as to the realities of life. She should certainly know better, having seen enough cases of racism and inhumanity in this book alone. Author Martha Finley describes such things as slaves being whipped and black families torn apart on the auction block. Yet Elsie continues to wear rose-colored glasses and to think that everything's just hunky-dory. Her world view is soon to change dramatically with the outbreak of war...and not all of her family and friends will survive!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Esther Filbrun

    As with the other books in this series, Elsie’s Womanhood picks up where Elsie’s Girlhood left off—at the scene where Elsie is finally engaged. This story continues the tale, and while it’s fairly slow at times, there are several interesting diversions with Tom Jackson trying to kill Mr. Travilla—or Elsie, if he can—in order to get revenge for not being able to marry Elsie himself. Then Elsie’s family starts to grow, and the Civil War begins, with friends fighting on both sides. After five long years, the war is As with the other books in this series, Elsie’s Womanhood picks up where Elsie’s Girlhood left off—at the scene where Elsie is finally engaged. This story continues the tale, and while it’s fairly slow at times, there are several interesting diversions with Tom Jackson trying to kill Mr. Travilla—or Elsie, if he can—in order to get revenge for not being able to marry Elsie himself. Then Elsie’s family starts to grow, and the Civil War begins, with friends fighting on both sides. After five long years, the war is over—with many family members dead or permanently changed. This was another great book in the series—I’m looking forward to reading Elsie’s Motherhood!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jenna

    All the Elsie books are fantastic, especially the first ten!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mecque

    What can I say? I'm just very fond of Edward Travilla. I appreciated the increased action/adventure scenes in this volume. I think I might actually keep reading these books. I had trouble keeping track of the female characters changing names at the end because of marriages, and the Civil War aftermath scenes were pretty brutal. Overall, my favorite book in the series so far. That is, it's my favorite if I forget about the incredibly uncomfortable portrayal of African Americans throughout the boo What can I say? I'm just very fond of Edward Travilla. I appreciated the increased action/adventure scenes in this volume. I think I might actually keep reading these books. I had trouble keeping track of the female characters changing names at the end because of marriages, and the Civil War aftermath scenes were pretty brutal. Overall, my favorite book in the series so far. That is, it's my favorite if I forget about the incredibly uncomfortable portrayal of African Americans throughout the book. They don't completely ruin it, but I would never ever give this book to an impressionable reader (aka the young girls these books are aimed at). I don't blame the author (it was a different time period) , but that aspect of the book was horrifying and made my feel sick as I was reading it.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rob

    Another excellent book for character-building. The same problems as my reviews of earlier books with writing style but mostly explained by the era in which it was written. A general look at the the cause of the Civil War and a more emotional display of the "brother against brother" nature of the war that tore families and devoured the youth.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Shari Klase

    Delightfully old fashioned I love these Elsie books both for their good values and charm. Yes, they are a bit out dated but still very entertaining to read. It's a great pleasure to watch Elsie grow from child to mother in these books and to see her faith grow as well. I highly recommend them.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin

    Why did I pick up this book again? I think I'm officially done reading any more Elsie books. I'm tired of hearing that she's perfect and her faultless character is really starting to get on my nerves!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ariel

    This series was amazing and a great story! to me it had a good end with Elsie's Womanhood. I loved the way the author describes things in the story. And even though this one was especially sad it was beautiful and well written!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Elisabeth Gimenez

    I just finished reading this one. It was good, but also sad reading about the civil war how that brothers fought against each other. The book might not be true but its sad knowing that things like that really did happen.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Javaladybuggmail.com

    So interesting the look from outside the civil war.. Familial love vs national honor and loss of the places once cherished and loved.. Hope stolen and then restored.. Amazing

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nicole G.

    So many children! and they just appear with no explanation. Yay, and Elsie marries a much-older man. Creepy!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Meadow Frisbie

    Elsie and her father prepare for her marriage to dear Edward Travilla. This book was one of my favorite's of the series.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    This series is a bit Calvinistic in its theology, and it's also a bit uber-Christian; i.e., the Christians are really, really good and the non-Christians are really, really bad.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Leash

    This was a very enjoyable part of the series, full of romance.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Gabriella

  21. 4 out of 5

    Allison

  22. 5 out of 5

    Anglea

  23. 5 out of 5

    Emily F.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mari Johnston

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sara

  26. 4 out of 5

    Marilyn Schurman

  27. 5 out of 5

    Renskip

  28. 4 out of 5

    Brenna

  29. 4 out of 5

    Dana

  30. 5 out of 5

    James F Weems

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