Elsie's Girlhood (by Martha Finley)

Having read 'Elsie Dinsmore', first of the (in)famous 'Elsie' books written at the end of the 19th century by Martha Finley featured in one of the Chalet School stories, I wasn't exactly eager to read any more. But then I did wonder if the series might improve... and there were several of them available free for my Kindle. So I downloaded some of them.

'Elsie's Girlhood' is apparently the third in the series, but I didn't seem to have missed anything by not having read the second. When this book begins, Elsie is a young teenager, established as a wealthy young lady, now living with her much-loved father. This book follows her friendships and her gradual maturing, as she falls in love for the first time.

There are some poignant moments as well as a few that made me roll my eyes somewhat. I did feel that the story was a little more realistic than the first, and that Elsie felt a bit more believable, although the chasm between the 'good' and the 'bad' people is a little too big to be true. The writing style was better than I remembered from the first book, and I found it very readable.

A strong Christian theme underlies the story, but it wasn't quite as overt as in the first book, and Elsie wasn't so irritating as she was as a young child; she no longer keeps dissolving into tears, and while she's hardly a typical teenager, she does seem rather more likeable.

I wouldn't particularly recommend it, but it's not a bad book, given the genre and age. Originally intended for teenagers, I doubt if most of today's teens would enjoy it.

Links are to current paperback editions of 'Elsie's Girlhood', but if you want to read it I would recommend, rather, downloading a free e-book edition from Project Gutenberg.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 10th May 2011

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