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Elsie Dinsmore (The Original Elsie Classics, Book One) [Paperback]

By Martha Finley (Author)
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Item description for Elsie Dinsmore (The Original Elsie Classics, Book One) by Martha Finley...

Living with her uncle's family on a southern plantation in the mid-nineteenth century, motherless eight-year-old Elsie finds it difficult to establish a relationship with her worldly father who seems indifferent to her religious principles.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Cumberland House Publishing
Pages   320
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 6.4" Width: 4.2" Height: 1.2"
Weight:   0.41 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 31, 2000
Publisher   CUMBERLAND HOUSE #572
ISBN  158182064X  
ISBN13  9781581820645  

Availability  0 units.

More About Martha Finley

Martha Finley Martha Finley (1828 - 1909) was a teacher and author of numerous works, the most well known being the 28 volume Elsie Dinsmore series which was published over a span of 38 years. The daughter of Presbyterian minister Dr. James Brown Finley and his wife and cousin Maria Theresa Brown Finley, she was born on April 26th, 1828 in Chillicothe, Ohio. Finley wrote many of her books under the pseudonym Martha Farquharson. She died in 1909 in Elkton, Maryland, where she moved in 1876.

Martha Finley was born in 1828 and died in 1909.

Martha Finley has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Elsie Dinsmore Collection (Hardcover)
  2. Elsie Dinsmore Collection (Paperback)
  3. Life of Faith (Paperback)
  4. Mildred Keith (Paperback)
  5. Original Elsie Classics (Paperback)
  6. Original Elsie Dinsmore

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Children > History & Historical Fiction > United States > Fiction > General
2Books > Subjects > Children > Religions > Fiction > Fiction
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
4Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Action & Adventure
5Books > Subjects > Teens > History & Historical Fiction > Historical Fiction

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Reviews - What do customers think about Elsie Dinsmore (The Original Elsie Classics, Book One)?

Elsie Dimwit  Oct 23, 2008
Welcome to the Elsie Dinsmore series! The series of books that will help YOUR little martyr keep the tears flowing! Let's follow Elsie as she battles the horrible troubles, and trials that she faces! Going to her room, being SCOLDED by her cruel father!! But alas! She will follow Jesus Christ to the very end! Read a book to her father on SUNDAY!!?!? Unthinkable circumstances that would simply STUN our modern day children are reviewed in these wonderful books! Join Elsie in the magical world of, Elsie Dinsmore

No. I did not copy that from anywhere. These books disgust me! On almost every page, Elsie Dinsmore BURSTS into tears. Simple matters such as simply being scolded by here father make her weep, and wail. A good description for Elsie Dinsmore is a weeping willow. She refused to simply read her father a book on Sunday! Tears welling into her eyes at the very request! I am a Christian. Since these books have Christian themes to them, I will give it two stars rather than one. I do not, however, reccomend that you waste your money on these. They are very dull anyhow. Nothing exciting, or fun ever really happens. Elsie is just a drama freak. A martyr-wanna-be.
Chock-full of horrible lessons  Aug 16, 2008
Where to begin with the horrible life lessons that Elsie teaches? Perhaps start in the beginning:

1) If people are evil and unjust, the best thing you can do as a Christian is ignore it. Remember the old axiom 'All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing'? Christians should be aware of evil and unjust behavior, directed at them or otherwise.
This bad lesson is taught as Elsie's wretched cousin continues to do evil works, while Elsie just pretends she doesn't see them. She doesn't come forward about her cousin's evil works until after a little slave boy has been beaten and is about to be turned out of the house.

2) If you lavish enough adoration upon the man who ignores or ridicules you, he will eventually love you. There's a life lesson for little girls- Elsie's father is abusive, controlling, and manipulative. He punishes Elsie on whims or punishes her while excusing the worse behavior of others. Eventually he grows to love her- after she nearly wastes to death pining for his affection. Even better lesson- almost dying will make the emotionally distant man in your life love you!

3) People have it in for you because you're a Christian. No, not every non-Christian is hostile to Christians. However, anyone might feel less than charitable towards a person who constantly lectures them about their "sins", like listening to non-religious music on Sundays. Last time I read the Bible, it was the Pharisees who made up ridiculously elaborate rules and made it a sin to not follow them.

4) It's okay for a man to beat you if he thinks you were in the wrong. This isn't an argument against spanking as part of discipline- but there is a HUGE difference between spanking and beating. A buggy whip is never an appropriate tool to mete out punishment. Now, for how this lesson is taught? Elsie brings her father what she thinks is a perfect copybook lesson. She proudly opens the book to find a giant ink stain. She's shocked. Her father rages at her for spoiling the book, and then takes her innocent confusion to be outright lying. He then drags her off to beat her, only being stopped at the last moment. Elsie then says it would have been all right if he had beaten her, because he thought it was for the best.

5) That lesson leads into the next one: Hearing explanations is for losers. Every time Elsie attempts to explain something, she's shushed, smacked, starved, ridiculed, boxed on the ears, sent away in disgrace, or locked up. It's no wonder she has no backbone- if you were punished for attempting to explain yourself, you'd shut up too. The worst part is, they always ask her to explain first, but before five words are out of her mouth, it's pariah time.

6) Adult men who say that they are in love with little girls are fine people and should probably marry the girl in question. The concerned party is one Edward Travilla, who falls in love with Elsie when she's 7, and marries her as soon as her father consents. He then keeps her as his perpetual child bride. That is wrong and creepy no matter what era you're in- he is in love with a child. Not a happy friendly uncle love, but a 'I want to marry this little girl the second I'm allowed to'. If happy friendly uncle love had been made much of, only to have him surprised by her womanliness in her actual womanhood, this wouldn't be quite as creepy. However, he makes a big deal of his adult love for her and his wishes that she was just a bit older so he could actually marry her, so it's never not creepy.

7) Catholics are bad. Like, really really really Satan-worshiping bad. And nuns will whip you half to death if you don't bow down and worship statues of Mary.

8) Perhaps the deadliest thing in this world is grief and brain fever.

I read this entire series to please a lovely lady who was like a grandmother to me. I admit to lying when I told her I enjoyed them, but since the entire series is on-line now, my best friend and I read them and laugh heartily. However, these books will be kept out of our own daughters hands until they can see them for the silliness they are.
It made my daughter laugh and cry...  Feb 3, 2008
Enjoying the Ride

My 9 year old is an avid reader and she thoroughly enjoys many types of books. However, I have never seen her be so affected emotionally by any book. She used to curl up on the couch while reading this series and just weep and laugh-she'd talk about it constantly with us at the dinner table and it stimulated many intelligent conversations about important topics.

From my experience and how a child might process the content in this book, I have to say I did not once feel any content was inappropriate for her. In fact, I believe it really encouraged my daughter to think deeply, thoughtfully, and to be challenged to live a life of faith. She really understood the real message of every part of the story and it inspired her. I believe these are the goals set by the author and in our experience, she met these goals in this reader of the Elsie Dinsmore series.

*one additional word about this series: I did have my daughter stop reading after a few books into the series to wait for her to age while Elsie aged. I didn't think it was appropriate for her to read about Elsie's experience dating and getting married at an age when my daughter is not ready to think about those things...We will revisit this series and read it together so we can discuss these more mature topics.
Not for impressionable children!  Jan 29, 2008
My daughter devoured the entire series when she was much younger. But then she pretty much devoured anything we put in front of her in the form of reading material.

Today I wouldn't put these books in front of anyone.

First of all, Elsie is just plain annoying. It was actually painful to read her constant weepy outbursts. I could fully understand why others were driven to mistreat such an overwrought, self-righteous, self-centered little crybaby. My favorite part of the entire book is when she falls and hits her head on the piano. Some little girls that I know actually cheered at this point in the book, shouting, "Serves her right!"

There is really nothing in this book that I would want anyone to emulate. As many have said, Elsie's relationship with her father is downright creepy. She is certainly not a model of godly girlhood --- in fact, if anything, I would use her as an example of what girls should NOT be or do.

I think that part of the appeal of this book is that it is quaint and very legalistic. Those who like the idea of girls being ultimate girly-girls who dissolve into tears at the drop of a hat, and who refuse to play anything but hymns on Sunday --- well, they will like this book. Those who are seeking after true godliness, rather than some sham play-acting farce, will not find anything of value in this entire series.
A worhtwhile glimpse into the past  Oct 13, 2007
I read these books as a child and have just re-read them as a married mother of two. I can't say enough about their positive effect on me both then and now. In reading some of the other reviews it becomes quite clear that many of the objections (too close to erotic love between father and daughter and extreme piety in Elsie as a child) arise from two things: the change in our language and the change in our culture.

The simple fact is that language has changed in the last one hundred years. Yes, the terminology is somewhat antiquated, but it is also rich with a vocabulary that would shame any modern author. Obviously language evolves. We do not ascribe the same meaning to certain words today as were ascribed in the time the books were written. That need not be a stumbling block to young readers if parents take a little time to talk about the changes in language. Indeed, it can be a very positive thing to discover the richness of language.

A changing culture also leads to misinterpretation of an innocent work. The idea that there would be anything improper in the deep love shared between the father and daughter is only an invention of modern, jaded eyes. Our culture is so saturated with sexuality and selfishness that we no longer understand purity or selfless love. Original readers of the Elsie series would be horrified at the misinterpretation of this work. Indeed such a perverted view of love would be as foreign to them as the pure view of love seems to be to some of today's readers.

As to the piety (some would say martyrdom) of Elsie with regard to her faith, I would again refer to the change in culture. Reading other works of the same era, one would find others with a similar dedication. Perhaps the comparison of Elsie's dedication and the casualness with which we tend to treat our faith today makes some readers a little uncomfortable. It certainly did me. But I am glad because it has made me re-evaluate my own walk with God ... a worthwhile exercise for us all.


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