A Warning for Parents
By A Customer
I’ll risk having my comments dismissed as the ravings of a sinful mind by my fellower reviewers who are impressed with this novel’s Christian message because I’m sure that there some concerned parents out there who would appreciate knowing that this novel discusses Elsie’s love for her father in language that many would consider more appropriate to an adult romance novel. I could say a great deal about the many problems, literary and otherwise, that I see in this book, but I’ll settle for just providing a few examples of what I regard as its most troubling element so parents can judge for themselves before buying.
“The little girl . . . was rehearsing again and again in her own mind all that had just passed between her papa and herself. She dwelt with lingering delight upon everything approaching to a caress, every kind word, every soothing tone of his voice, and then picturing to herself all that he might have done and said if those unwelcome visitors had not come . . . And half hoping that he would send for her when they had gone, she watched the clock and listened intently for every sound.. . . But her bedtime came . . . She lay awake for some time, thinking of his unwonted kindness, and indulging fond hopes for the future, and then fell asleep to dream that she was on her father’s knee, and felt his arm folded lovingly about her, and his kisses warm upon her cheek. Her heart beat quickly as she entered the breakfast room the next morning. . .His cold and distant manner to her and his often repeated reproofs had so increased her natural timidity . . . He saw that she feared him, and to that feeling alone he gave credit for her uniform obedience. . . He had no conception of the intense, but now almost despairing love for him that burned in that little heart, and made the young life one longing, earnest desire and effort to gain his affection.”
And: “She admired her father, and loved him, ‘oh so dearly,’ as she often whispered to herself, but would she ever meet with anything like a return of her fond affection? There was an aching void in her heart which nothing else could fill . . Was her craving for affection never to be satisfied? . . . If I might climb on his knee now, and lay my head on his chest, and put my arms around his neck, and tell him how sorry I am that I have been naughty, . . .If he would forgive me, and kiss me . . . Or if I might only stand beside him and lay my head on his shoulder, and he would put his arm around me, it would make me so happy.”
Or: “Then for the first time he folded her in his arms and kissed her tenderly, saying in a moved tone, ‘I do love you, my darling, my own little daughter,’ . . . Her joy was too great for words, for anything but tears. ‘Why do you cry so, my darling?’ he asked, soothingly, stroking her hair, and kissing her again and again. ‘Oh, papa! Because I am so happy, so very happy,’ she sobbed.”
And then there is Mr. Travilla, Elsie’s father’s best friend (whom, if I’m not mistaken, she marries in a sequel despite his being at least 15 years older). Here’s a nice scene with him: “As Elsie ran out into the hall, she found herself suddenly caught in Mr. Travilla’s arms. ‘A merry Christmas and a happy New Year! little Elsie,’ he said , kissing her on both cheeks. ‘Now I have caught you figuratively and literally, my little lady, so what are you going to give me, eh?’ ‘Indeed, sir, I think you’ve helped yourself to the only thing I have to give at present,’ she answered with a merry silvery laugh. ‘Nay, give me one, little lady,’ said he, ‘one such hug and kiss as I dare say your father gets half-a-dozen times in a day.’ She gave it very heartily. ‘Ah ! I wish you were ten years older,” he said as he set her down. ‘If I had been, you wouldn’t have got the kiss,’ she replied, smiling archly.” Perhaps a little too “archly” for an 8 year old girl, in my opinion.
I’m sure that many will not see anything troubling in such passages; however, I also know others who have thought that this novel depicts child/parent love in terms that border on erotic. You can judge for yourself.