Hello, Readers! Today I’ll be reviewing, or rather discussing, the Elsie Dinsmore series by Martha Finley.
Martha Finley was born in 1828. She wrote numerous books, the most popular being the twenty-eight “Elsie books.” She died January 30, 1909.
The Elsie Dinsmore series is, essentially, a devotional (and, meanwhile, an interesting story) for Victorian children. I have read most of the books and enjoyed all of them.
True, modern readers can’t always identify with the strict morals of the 19th century. For instance, Elsie’s Sabbath-keeping (which is an important plot point, by the way) may seem ludicrous.
Elsie Dinsmore (Book 1) begins in the mid-1840s on a Southern plantation, Roselands.
Elsie’s mother died soon after giving birth to her, leaving her in the care of her paternal grandfather. Elsie’s aunts and uncles, who are about her age, mistreat her, as does the cross governess. Though supported by her strong Christian faith, Elsie longs for the love and companionship of her only remaining parent, Horace Dinsmore, who has been away in Europe for Elsie’s entire life.
When Mr. Dinsmore returns, Elsie is sadly disappointed to find that her father doesn’t love her at all. He is very strict and cold, only speaking to her if he wishes to reprimand her. Can Elsie win her father’s love? Even if she does, can she stand firm in her faith against her non-Christian father’s influence?
I often use these novels as a historical reference. It’s also a very interesting story, and the Christian content is inspirational. On the other hand, Elsie’s perfection can be a bit annoying at times.
There is also, a rewritten Elsie Dinsmore series, “A Life of Faith.” I’ve read those, too. For a modern audience, it is definitely improved. I believe there are eight Elsie books and eight Violet books (Elsie’s daughter).
The new books are definitely worth reading; they make it easy to understand the complicated plot and remove some of Martha Finley’s flowery, oftentimes superfluous, prose.
Thank you for your time! Be sure to comment; I’d love to hear from you!