Dear Daughter Dorothy

I took advantage of our snow day today to read a bit. Finishing Fair Tomorrow has put me in the mood for more old books (of which we have plenty), but with the rest of the TBR stack looming I wanted something short. I browsed the shelves and came up with Dear Daughter Dorothy, a children’s book by A.G. Plympton from 1899.

The downside of old books is that they have no summaries (at least, not beyond a line or two), so you never know quite what you’re getting. Dear Daughter Dorothy tells of a widower raising his daughter who finds himself accused of fraudulent bookkeeping. I trust no one is going to run out looking for this, so there are spoilers ahead.

My problem with the book is that it is sickly sweet and completely implausible. Little Dorothy actually manages the household money at age six, even though her father is an accountant by trade. I know children grew up quickly back then, but that’s ridiculous. When Daddy loses his job and they are strapped for cash, she auctions off her possessions to raise funds (but of course her adult friends all buy them and give them back next birthday). The case isn’t looking good, so Dorothy heads off to the judge’s house herself, sprains her ankle falling on the step, and is forced to remain there, winning his fatherly affection. Despite this Dorothy’s father is convicted. Luckily the evil partner in the firm is moved by her tears and confesses to taking the money. He dies beatifically in the end with Dorothy’s forgiveness, while the rest of them live happily ever after.

I like Pollyanna, and Louisa May Alcott, and other semi-sweet children’s books of years past, but this one was just too much. The doting but slightly clueless father was done much better in Jane Abbott’s Keineth, and Little Dorrit is infinitely more likable as a mother-daughter. It’s safe to say I won’t be tracking down the sequel Dorothy and Anton.

Published in: on December 21, 2009 at 10:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

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