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Elsie Dinsmore


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I downloaded the first book to see if it was as bad as most reviews I've read. Oh my god.... It read like a sadist's dream. She's constantly emotionally battered and neglected, to the point of passing out and having health problems at times. She almost seemed like a Mary Sue. I wonder if the author didn't think of herself as perfect to the point of having a martyr complex being persecuted like Jesus, and so fashioned Elsie after herself, or something like that. There's no other way to describe it. Elsie cried all the damned time. If I were to take a shot of alcohol every time she cried, I'd have died of alcohol poisoning by the end of the second chapter.

It was an overly-preachy, poorly-written book. There were entire chapters written about "what a perfect and wonderful friend Jesus is," complete with Elsie crying about it. Then she'd beret herself for not being deserving of such divine grace. A point in her dad's favor is he noticed how all the biblical stuff seemed to make her sad and upset at times, and he considered banning her from reading the bible anymore. An unexpected observation, in my opinion, to have in this book. I've seen plenty of fundy wives who are so sad, feeling unworthy, because of the same things Elsie did, thinking themselves unworthy because a group of people killed someone else thousands of years ago.

It definitely had racism in it, but I had to give that a pass as being the most realistic part of this book. It was written back when slavery was current, and the Dinsmores were wealthy and owned slaves. Those parts, complete with the slaves calling themselves "niggahs" and their speech being written like, "Dems good massahs", are, I think, a fairly accurate representation of how black people were viewed back then. But I know better than to take a book like this as the end all, be all, of anything having to do with history.

I was really angry at the end of the book. Elsie went to bed on Christmas night, heart-broken after he father failed to notice her because he was paying attention to a "painted" lady who was amusing to him. His friend told him his daughter went to bed, upset thinking that woman was going to become her step-mother (the woman was really annoying, and I'd have been upset too) and supplant her place in her father's affections after she'd been ignored her entire life (it took a long time for the jerk to say anything kind to his daughter, and then he liked to "fondle" her, author's word, not mine). He went up to her room and her face was still tear-streaked. Rather than waking her to soothe her fears, he just went back downstairs to the party. End of book. I had downloaded the second one too, but this one was too awful that I couldn't bear the thought of reading the second one. And there are 28 total!!

I can see why fundies love it. It's full of father-worship and the main character thought her father could do no wrong, despite ignoring her for literally her entire life, not even referring to her as his child but rather as his father's grandchild. She was perfectly content to let him hurt her, always saying he knew what was best. For crying out loud, she couldn't even had warm bread because he said it wasn't good for kids. And she was completely willing to accept he knew best, without any reason. He was overly harsh with her for the simplest of childhood mistakes and for simply being a child, and she still thought he was the greatest. And Elsie only ever saw one fault with her dad, and that is that he didn't love Jesus as much as she did (truth be told, it sounds like the guy is only a "Christian" in that he goes to church because he's supposed to), and she spent plenty of time bursting into tears over that. Seriously, that kid cried more than anything. Oh, and any books other than the bible or Pilgrim's Progress were bad unless her dad said they were fine for her to read.

If you want a book that is horrible in a train-wreck way, then this isn't the book for you. This book is horrible in a way that I'm disturbed so many Christian parents think it's the greatest and so many little fundy girls love it. I wouldn't let my daughter read it until she's a teenager and wouldn't be affected by it. it was truly awful, and not at all something I'd recommend for anyone, especially kids.

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There are some reasons fundies definitely DON'T like it but I think they come up in the second book. However, Mr. Travilla is officially the creepiest literary character EVER. She is only 5 or 6 in the first couple of books and he makes all SORTS of creepy comments like "I wish you could be the mistress of my house," "If only you were a few years older," "Don't you like me better than your Papa?"

Creepy. Creepy. Creepy.

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I only got to like chapter 6 or so before I was super squicked out and I haven't "picked it up" again... Elsie's relationship with her father is excessively squicky and has definite hints of incest... And not to mention Mr. Travilla! TALK about squick!! Ew ew ew :shock:

Elsie is both too mature for the age she is supposed to be (what 6/7/8 year old is a "martyr for christ"???), and on the other hand cries INCESSANTLY. And the way her father treated her disgusted me. He kinda reminded me of a lot of fundie dads. :-P

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Guest Anonymous
Then she'd beret herself...

Was it a raspberry beret? After all, she could buy it at the second hand store and save the difference!

Elle I'm not mocking you, I know it was a riffle, it just happened to be an awesome one!

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Paraphrasing:

Mr. Travilla: Give me a kiss!

She kisses him.

Mr. Travilla: If only you were 10 years older.

Elsie: Then you couldn't have had the kiss!

I'm trying to put that one into context of the time period. I can't put fondling a kid into any context That's always been wrong.

I've only ever read lavish praise from fundies. What's in the Roselands books that a lot don't like?

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LOL, Lissar! I don't even have an excuse for that typo. :) Also the Dinsmores won't buy used. They'e big spenders.

I've now got Prince singing in my head!

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I've only ever read lavish praise from fundies. What's in the Roselands books that a lot don't like?

Basically, Elsie offers her allegiance to God before Daddy dearest. Basically, when Elsie decides that doing something fun on the Sabbath is wrong and her dad disagrees, it's not good to paint her as following her convictions/spiritual/a good person - she should apparently have just listened to her father, because your parents know better. There's a good article on it here:

http://www.keepersofthefaith.com/catego ... reAnEnigma

Setting the Sabbath question aside, we must ask ourselves if children should obey their parents, or decide right and wrong for themselves. Miss Finley bolsters the thought in the reader’s mind that the child should decide. Now, if an unbelieving parent is commanding a child to commit adultery, murder, incest, or some other serious ill, a child might know to do right. However, in laying down the fine points of Christian practice, young children are not likely to be doctrinal experts. In these matters, if the Bible teaches women to listen and be under the authority of their husbands, certainly children should follow suit. If women are easily deceived, how much more easily would children be deceived?

There is a danger for children to have such an independent spirit, even concerning spiritual matters. For instance, suppose the parents are against Christian rock music, but the children see nothing wrong with it, and therefore, according to Elsie, can follow their own spiritual convictions concerning music. This would be wrong in any case. However, it is presumable that eight-year-old children are nowhere near likely to be wise enough to make decisions in these matters.

They also don't like that Elsie's father doesn't spank her (though he threatens to, on occasion).

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There are some reasons fundies definitely DON'T like it but I think they come up in the second book. However, Mr. Travilla is officially the creepiest literary character EVER. She is only 5 or 6 in the first couple of books and he makes all SORTS of creepy comments like "I wish you could be the mistress of my house," "If only you were a few years older," "Don't you like me better than your Papa?"

Creepy. Creepy. Creepy.

I still maintain that the creepiest character in all of literature is "Little Father Time" from Jude the Obscure. But Mr. Travilla is, I think, particularly disturbing because he is portrayed in such a positive light. And scrolling through the comments, he seems wildly and uncritically beloved by many SAHDs in their late teens and early 20s.

thelastroseofsummer-michaela.blogspot.com/2011/04/moi-favorite-mostly-literary-heroes.html

Now, when Elsie is grown and marries Mr. Travilla, he states that there has been no woman for him other than Elsie since she was a child of 7. For a woman in her early 20s to be so sheltered and naive as to see this as romantic and not fucked-up is really distressing.

I wonder how many fundie parents have actually *read* these books, and how many give them to their girls because they are "Christian," "old-fashioned" and come recommended by people whom they perceive as having moral or spiritual authority.

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A quote I found from Against the Day (Pynchon's book about the nineteenth century):

"Pa's dead and gone and I haven't stopped hating him. What kind of unnatural daughter's that make me? A girl is supposed to love her father."

"Sure, in those Elsie Dinsmore stories or someplace. We all grew up on that stuff, and it poisoned our souls."

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I still maintain that the creepiest character in all of literature is "Little Father Time" from Jude the Obscure. But Mr. Travilla is, I think, particularly disturbing because he is portrayed in such a positive light. And scrolling through the comments, he seems wildly and uncritically beloved by many SAHDs in their late teens and early 20s.

thelastroseofsummer-michaela.blogspot.com/2011/04/moi-favorite-mostly-literary-heroes.html

Now, when Elsie is grown and marries Mr. Travilla, he states that there has been no woman for him other than Elsie since she was a child of 7. For a woman in her early 20s to be so sheltered and naive as to see this as romantic and not fucked-up is really distressing.

I wonder how many fundie parents have actually *read* these books, and how many give them to their girls because they are "Christian," "old-fashioned" and come recommended by people whom they perceive as having moral or spiritual authority.

Wow! Reading this, I'm starting to think that I'm lucky because the Elsie Dinsmore craze among fundies in my part of the country started to hit when I was in high school and too old for those books. They sound perfectly awful! I did find 2 of them at Goodwill recently and I have to admit that I picked them up out of morbid fascination. I don't know if I'll be able to make it through them, though.

Travilla sounds like a creep. However, I remember reading some sentimental Victorian books in college and the "I fell in love with you when you were just a child and waited all these years for you to grow up" plot was present in way more books than I care to remember. I've always found it creepy, but I remember one of my history profs telling us that this was considered highly romantic in the mid-19th century because the unspoken part of that sentiment is that the guy was stayed celibate for those 15-20 years until he could marry his darling. The Grover Cleveland/Frances Folsom marriage later on in the century probably didn't do much to stifle this as a romantic idea. For those who don't know, Folsom was Cleveland's ward (daughter of his late law partner) and he married her when she was 18 or 19.

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Travilla sounds like a creep. However, I remember reading some sentimental Victorian books in college and the "I fell in love with you when you were just a child and waited all these years for you to grow up" plot was present in way more books than I care to remember. I've always found it creepy, but I remember one of my history profs telling us that this was considered highly romantic in the mid-19th century because the unspoken part of that sentiment is that the guy was stayed celibate for those 15-20 years until he could marry his darling. The Grover Cleveland/Frances Folsom marriage later on in the century probably didn't do much to stifle this as a romantic idea. For those who don't know, Folsom was Cleveland's ward (daughter of his late law partner) and he married her when she was 18 or 19.

I think the main issue I have with these books is not necessarily that kids read them (since it was written in a different time era), but that parents make no effort to explain these things... and the things they do explain are totally the WRONG things! :-P But I wouldn't let any kids read it simply because they give me such an uber creepy feeling and I definitely don't want to share that. :-P

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Travilla sounds like a creep. However, I remember reading some sentimental Victorian books in college and the "I fell in love with you when you were just a child and waited all these years for you to grow up" plot was present in way more books than I care to remember. I've always found it creepy, but I remember one of my history profs telling us that this was considered highly romantic in the mid-19th century because the unspoken part of that sentiment is that the guy was stayed celibate for those 15-20 years until he could marry his darling.

I study the Victorians and yeah, this is so typical, but I never thought of it from that angle! Makes even more sense. And yeah, the problem is that fundies try to EMULATE things like this without thinking about the context at all.

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I think the main issue I have with these books is not necessarily that kids read them (since it was written in a different time era), but that parents make no effort to explain these things... and the things they do explain are totally the WRONG things! :-P But I wouldn't let any kids read it simply because they give me such an uber creepy feeling and I definitely don't want to share that. :-P

I agree. I've heard fundies that I know(incl. a childhood friend who lets her daughter read this stuff!) say that they like these books because of Elsie's reliance on God and obedience to authority figures - but then they seem not to get how screwed up some of these "authority figures" are.

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the "I fell in love with you when you were just a child and waited all these years for you to grow up" plot was present in way more books than I care to remember

L.M. Montgomery springs to mind. In her Emily series, Dean tells a 12-year-old Emily "I think I will wait for you". Later, he is jealous of her literary aspirations because her books mean more to her than he does. Oh, and he also offers up this gem: "And, like all female creatures, you form your opinions by your feelings."

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I agree. I've heard fundies that I know(incl. a childhood friend who lets her daughter read this stuff!) say that they like these books because of Elsie's reliance on God and obedience to authority figures - but then they seem not to get how screwed up some of these "authority figures" are.

I think GenerationCedarchip hits the NAIL on its HEAD when she indicates that her understanding of this trope - I accidentally wrote "tripe," there - came from a college history class. How many of the 21st century SAHDs who seem to view Travilla as "the perfect guy" and not "an idealized portrait in a particular time, place and culture" are being encouraged to pursue higher education?

L.M. Montgomery springs to mind. In her Emily series, Dean tells a 12-year-old Emily "I think I will wait for you". Later, he is jealous of her literary aspirations because her books mean more to her than he does. Oh, and he also offers up this gem: "And, like all female creatures, you form your opinions by your feelings."

I think Montgomery is actually being critical of this trope. I remember both families were upset by the news of Dean and Emily's engagement - even in the world of the story, it's not viewed as an ideal - and Emily ends up breaking it off with him.

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Basically, Elsie offers her allegiance to God before Daddy dearest. Basically, when Elsie decides that doing something fun on the Sabbath is wrong and her dad disagrees, it's not good to paint her as following her convictions/spiritual/a good person - she should apparently have just listened to her father, because your parents know better. There's a good article on it here:

http://www.keepersofthefaith.com/catego ... reAnEnigma

They also don't like that Elsie's father doesn't spank her (though he threatens to, on occasion).

This is the best part of the fundies we watch. No matter now often they claim that they worship God, they don't. They worship man and that's entirely obvious from that quote. :sad-roulette: In other news, this smilie is deeply twisted but utterly represents how I feel when reading tripe like the above.

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I have to wonder at how fundies who are so determined to see the slightest hint of sex everywhere else ("Oh no! I might defraud someone by doing English Country Dancing!" "Little girls must be raised modest from the start, otherwise some man might be defrauded by your six-year-old!") don't see the epic amount of creepy in these books when it comes to Mr. Travilla.

Then again, we've discussed their ability to read historical fiction with some pretty large blinders on before.

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Alright, I am going to be the mild dissenter -

I <3 <3 <3 Elsie!!! Overall...

There are some MAJOR things I disagree with, but mostly not what y'all are having problems with. ;)

1. She tells their slaves that if they become Christians when they get to heaven they will be white. 'Tis True. I understand that these books were written during/post civil war era, so Martha Finley probably view black people as substandard, but it really bothers me.

2. The personal conviction over parental authority thing. It bothers me that Elsie is viewed as pious and right instead of legalistic or something... but, I think they may be that the "sabbath" was never upheld in my house. :)

3. There is a HUGE emphasis on works. If you are really a Christian you won't ABC...XYZ, there really is such a long list of things "Christians don't do" and it's can't just be a personal conviction thing 'cause if she sees someone doing something she views as wrong she cries because "You can't see Jesus like that"

But, as a literary thing - I love Elsie - if y'all don't like Elsie books 1 and 2 you'd have a field day with...11 or 12 when Captain Raymond (Elsie's son in law) "rains down blows upon Lulu's should and back for several minutes while she tried not to let the others hear her cries" with a riding crop. And Martha Finley like all good fundies quotes the proverbs verses. :)

I probably will NOT let my younger kids read them if only 'cause I don't want to explain why "nigger" is a word Elsie the perfect uses ;)

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Oh, BTW, y'all can tease me all you want, but I LOOOOOOVE Mr. Travilla!!!!!! Oh my goodness love Mr. T!!!!! He is probably my favorite male character!! But then again, y'all will remember - or not - I love Edward from twilight too. ;) So, obviously I like creepers. :D

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sisof9, I read the entire Elsie series when I was...maybe nine or ten. They were never favorites of mine, but I'm really curious why you liked them! What other books did you enjoy when you were a kid?

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[

I still maintain that the creepiest character in all of literature is "Little Father Time" from Jude the Obscure. But Mr. Travilla is, I think, particularly disturbing because he is portrayed in such a positive light. And scrolling through the comments, he seems wildly and uncritically beloved by many SAHDs in their late teens and early 20s.

thelastroseofsummer-michaela.blogspot.com/2011/04/moi-favorite-mostly-literary-heroes.html

It's totally not Literature, but Game of Thrones has a man who lives out in the woods, marries his daughters, and sacrifices his sons. The thing that's particularly disturbing about this for me is that it reminds me of some of the families we snark on. (Not literally, of course, but in fundie life everything revolves around the father.)

Back on topic, both the Victorians and the fundies like their women frail and childlike.

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I just reread books 1 - 12/13 this past Winter :-) That's when I picked up on the crap. I read them as perfect books from 14 - 18

Depends on what you mean by kid - you can kinda tell when I had "dress wearing/ATI" best friends and when I was more normal or rebellious :)

7 - 11: Boxcar Children, Encyclopedia Brown, Choose Your Own Adventures, Anything Laura Ingalls Wilder, Anything Louisa May Alcott, Tom Sawyer, Illustrated Classics, Black Stallion, Black Beauty, those type books

11 - 14: Still classics and such, but also anything by Rod and Staff Publishers - the Millers, Olive, Square Peg in a Round Hole, Elsie books, Saddle Club (NOT fundie ;)), Elizabeth Gail series, Mandie series by Lois Gladys Leppard (my next series from my childhood to reread and see if they are as amazing as I remember ;)) Anything about missionaries, true from 7 - 11 too

14 - 18: The Courtship of Sarah Mclean, Waiting for her Issac, I Kissed Dating Goodbye (NOTE: My mother wouldnt let me read it 'til 14/15 'cause she felt it would create wrong thoughts in my head about boys... *rolls eyes* Actually *Take back eye roll* She is right, but the courtship fiction stories were SO much worse), anything by Grace Livingston Hill and her aunt/grandmother who wrote "The Kings Daughter" and a bunch of other "moral reading" from the 19th century *laugh*

Then from 18 - 22 I read a lot of VC Andrews Tamora Pierce and basically anything with creepers and witches - lol

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