A Girl of the Limberlost, by Gene Stratton Porter

I am very disappointed. I recently went on a quest to find an attractive, non-battered copy of Gene Stratton-Porter's deliciously over-the-top novel A Girl of the Limberlost, and this (at right) was my best option.

Adding insult to injury, the publisher describes Stratton-Porter's book in exactly one line: "The story of Elnora, who collects moths to pay for her education, and lives the Golden Rule." While there's nothing out-and-out wrong with that sentence, neither it nor the insipid cover art give the slightest hint of this book's soap-opera-worthy charms.

A Girl of the Limberlost was published in 1909, and is set in rural Indiana. Impossibly noble teenager Elnora Comstock lives on the edge of the Limberlost Swamp with her widowed mother, Katharine. Elnora's mother alternately neglects and abuses her, blaming her only child for the death of her husband—see, Katharine was unable to save her husband from drowning before her eyes, as she was busy giving birth to Elnora at the time. Determined to attend high school (and equally determined not to ask her mother for help), Elnora discovers that she can pay her way through school by collecting and selling moths. Elnora does eventually win her mother's love (after a neighbor helpfully informs Katherine that her husband was cheating on her before his death), but this is only the beginning of her troubles....

Come ON, publishers! This is a book about passion, crazed resentment, unbridled sentimentality! It doesn't need prim, squeaky-clean cover art, it needs something almost pre-Raphaelite. Something more like this:

Only, y'know, with swamps and stuff. And no dead girls.
Posted by: Julianka


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