A Girl of the Limberlost (Library of Indiana Classics)

by Gene Stratton-Porter

Paperback, 1984



Call number

PB Por

Call number

PB Por

Local notes

PB Str




Indiana University Press (1984), Edition: New edition, 496 pages


Deeply wounded by her embittered mother's lack of sympathy for her aspirations, Elnora finds comfort in the nearby Limberlost Swamp, whose beauty and rich abundance provide her with the means to better her life.


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

496 p.; 6 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member ctpress
A classic american children's story about a very creative and charming girl who decides to pay her way through high-school collecting moth's in the Limberlost swamp. Elnora's father is dead and her mother lost in grief and refuses to support her in any way, blaming Elnora for the death of the
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This cannot quench Elnora's spirit. She has an incredible determination, and the transformation of this girl into a young woman captivates us. She's unspoiled, curious, self-taught and with a disarming simplicity and love of nature.

The second half of the book is more of a love story between Elnora and a rich kind city-boy, Philip. however he's already entangled with a conceited girl that does whatever she can to stop the blossoming love.

Stratton-Porter is a naturalist and we get a lot of knowledge of the nature life in the swamp. It also takes on some serious issues about loss, grief and reconciliation. If you love Anne of Green Gables there's a good chance you will love this one.

It's in 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up.
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LibraryThing member atimco
Elnora Comstock is a young woman who lives with her mother at the edge of the Limberlost swamp in Indiana around the turn of the century. Though naturally gifted and intelligent, Elnora is resented by her mother who blames her pregnancy for her inability to pull her husband from a mire of
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quicksand, where he died. Elnora has grown up never knowing her father or even her mother's love, but she is determined to make something of herself. Though straitened by her mother's refusal to sell land or cut trees, Elnora finds a way to pay her way through the city high school and get the education that will change her future. Along the way, old secrets about her father come to light and Elnora's mother must face the truth she never knew.

I loved A Girl of the Limberlost so much growing up. I wanted to be Elnora and lose myself in the Limberlost as she did. (It's also easy for a teenage reader having conflict with her parents to admire the much-persecuted heroine of this tale.) I have been afraid to reread it because I felt it could not hold up to my older and wiser scrutiny, but I finally did. My hesitation was for good reason; I could see the weaknesses and sentimentality of the story a bit more clearly now. But there were other things that still rang true and moved me.

This will always be an important novel to me and one I will share with my children. Sometimes it's the moment of life when you read a book that matters more than the literary merits of the work itself. A Girl of the Limberlost is that for me.
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LibraryThing member MerryMary
A wonderful story of coming of age, overcoming obstacles, child neglect, romance, turn of the century rural life, and a deep abiding love of nature. I have two copies, but the other is a modern paperback. This one feels and smells better!
PS: This edition is illustrated with black and white photos
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from a "photoplay." I'm assuming it's a silent movie.
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LibraryThing member barbyrabaker
Gene Stratton Porter was my mother's favorite author as a girl, and whe wanted me to read her books when I was young, too. I hated them, and never even finished one. When I found this free on the Kindle, I thought I would give it another try, and this time I like it! The writing is dated, but the
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concerns of the author are still relevant: destruction of the wetlands, preservation of species, getting alond with your mother :)
I'm glad I finally read it, and may try another of her books.
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LibraryThing member jarvenpa
When I visited my grandmother I would climb into the old walnut tree and sit with a book or two and a pocket full of apples, in case I got hungry and didn't want to climb down and smash walnuts with a rock and eat them. This was one of her books, and she gave it to me when I was a bit older, to
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keep. I loved it dearly and uncritically; I loved the heroine, the drama with her hard and bitter mother, the story of the woods and swampland.

Recently I reread it, in my own woodlands, as an environmentalist, and I thought "oh, by golly, her mom was right not to sell the land to be logged off and destroyed". And I took less kindly to the plundering of the swamps for moths to sell to collectors. (though I still loved the dress Eleanor designs)

And such is the perspective of time.
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LibraryThing member MerryMary
Gramma Spray gave me this to read when I was 14. I was entranced - and still am. I have read that Porter was quite racist in other books, but this one is magical.
LibraryThing member MereYom
A coming of age book, exploring both the beauty hidden in a northern Indiana swamp, and the beauty submerged in the heart of a girl whose life is filled with bitterness and hardship.
LibraryThing member Queezle22
This book was my mother's favorite. A tale of a girl who collects moths in a wonderful large woods, sells the moths, to get money for school.

I will read it with my daughter this year, and I look forward to seeing how well my memories hold up.
LibraryThing member jjmcgaffey
Wow. That's really rich. It started out an interesting story - rather Horatio Alger, with the way she suffered for lack of money and found a way to earn it. But richer than Alger, with strong emotions driving realistic characters with reasonable motivations. Then it expanded into a romance - just
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as rich, just as complicated emotions, just as real characters. I was seriously crying by the end. In Freckles I felt that the solutions were more than a little contrived - long-lost heir and all - in this one everything truly flowed. Magnificent. And - what was it I read at the B&B last year? Wasn't this, wasn't Freckles because after reading it I wanted Freckles...There must be another Limberlost story - yay! Something to look forward to.
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LibraryThing member tamarakraft
My grandmother's favorite book. When I told her I had begun collecting, she asked me if I knew of it. I am so grateful that she introduced me to this author and to this era of our history. The science angle gave added intelligence to a tale full of depth and insight.
LibraryThing member cljacobson
In 1908, Elenora Comstock is determined to attend high school even though her widowed mother calls her goal a foolish dream. She must choose betwqeen her own dreams for a better life and her mother's demand that she quit school and help with the harvest. 105 minutes
LibraryThing member nawnie
A great coming of age story, mixed with strong characters! This book will transport you to another time, and you won't want to leave! Definitely worth reading!!
LibraryThing member librarianlou
a great read for fans of Anne of Green Gables-a destitute young girl discovers a way to pay her own way through high school and falls in love.
LibraryThing member FriendsLibraryFL
Elnora Cornstock's first day at high school is a disaster. But she discoversLimberlost, a mysterious and swampy forest near her cabin that provides a wayfor to buy her books and explains a dark secret about her father. Original.
LibraryThing member mom2acat
This book was first published in 1909; the story is fiction, but the setting is real. The Limberlost Swamp, parts of which were also known as the Loblolly Marsh, originally covered 13,000 acres in eastern Indiana. The wetlands had mixed vegetation and supported a rich biodiversity, significant for
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local and migrating birds and insects, as well as other animals and life.

As the story opens, Elnora is 16 and living with her mother in a cabin in the Limberlost. Her father died when she was born, and her mother, Katharine, blames Elnora for that. She is very harsh with her daughter, and when Elnora wants to start high school, she refuses to help her. Elnora is ostracized on her first day of school, for her outdated and dowdy clothing, and is embarrassed when she finds out that instead of the school providing the books for the students, she must pay for them herself. Elnora returns home that day with a broken heart, but determined to get an education. When her mother refuses to provide the money, Elnora collects moths native to the Limberlost area to sell to collectors. With perseverance and determination, Elnora works at securing a future for herself, and finds a way to mend her relationship with her mother.

I really enjoyed this story, so much so that I stayed up way too late on a couple of evenings reading because it was just too hard to put down. Elnora is a very kind person, but with just enough feisty-ness and a touch of temper to keep her from being too syrupy sweet, (like Pollyanna.) She reminds me a lot of the fictional character Anne Shirley, from Anne of Green Gables, and I think readers of that series would enjoy this book too.

I enjoyed reading the descriptions of moths, and they make the reader see why Elnora appreciated them so much. I had no idea before reading this book of the wide variety of moths and how beautiful some of them are. I have a new appreciation of them now, though I still don't want them in my house, lol! The author was an amateur naturalist and wildlife photographer, and her knowledge and love for nature really shows through her writing. In fact, she used the proceeds from her book for conservation of the Limberlost swamp and other wetlands in Indiana.

I also liked that a small part of the story was set in Mackinac Island, Michigan. As a girl born and bred and still living in Michigan, I always think it's cool when it's used as a setting in a story.
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LibraryThing member bridgetrwilson
A must read classic for girls
LibraryThing member bookworm12
How did I miss this book when I was younger? It’s like a slighter darker version of Anne of Green Gables, and I loved every second of it.

Published in 1909, the story is about a young girl named Elnora who lives in the country. She is going to high school for the first time, but her lack of
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social skills and money makes the way difficult. Her whole life has been spent on her farm with her cold, unloving mother. Her father died in the Limberlost swamp the day she was born and her mother has resented her ever since.

Elnora is such a unique character. She is stubborn and driven to succeed. She's fiercely intelligent but incredibly compassionate. She is patient, giving her mother the benefit of the doubt for years. She's a hard worker, willing to make money to achieve her dreams. She has self-respect and is willing to sacrifice in order to find true happiness. She reminded me a little bit of Jane Austen’s Lizzy Bennet, particularly in a scene where one woman comes to talk to her about her possible engagement.

There is so much I loved about this book. There's a fantastic female lead who isn't just trying to win a man. The plot focuses on relationships with her family and friends and pursuing her dreams. She stands up for herself even when she doesn't fit in. She's a problem solver and isn't overwhelmed when a slight obstacle gets in her path.

Kate Comstock, Elnora's mother, is a fascinating character. She’s so oblivious to the pain she causes her daughter because she’s trapped in a prison of grief. She has one of the most drastic changes in attitude and overall character development that I've ever read. The way it's done it's completely believable, but it's still a 180 and it was so satisfying to see her relationship with Elnora change throughout the book.

I love how the romantic aspect of the story played out too. Elnora protects her own feelings and isn’t swayed the moment Philip gave her a second glance. She waited until she was sure he didn't want anyone else and she was not just a consolation prize. That’s so unusual to find in a novel, especially one written more than 100 years ago. She wanted someone who loved her deeply, not someone who settled for her in a moment of passion.

BOTTOM LINE: I fell hard for this novel. Elnora is so determined and intelligent, she’s definitely become one of my new favorites. The book is chocked full of wonderful characters, including her Uncle Wesley, the young ruffian Billy and even her selfish, detached mother becomes a character you care about.
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LibraryThing member nyiper
It was great fun to finally read this book I had heard about through my childhood and growing up---from my mother---but somehow I never read it. It has a fairy-tale like quality to it but so many things have changed since 1909, when this was first published. Elnora was written as a girl/woman ahead
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of her times in terms of interests and ambition and even the ending presents her as a person who will equal her husband at the same time she performs the wifely duties required of the time. Too bad there isn't a sequel, written after children arrive---will she be just like Freddie and Angel? Fascinating to see how many mothers and grandmothers of reviewers introduced this book to their offspring.
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LibraryThing member ecataldi
I wish I had read this as a child. Back then Little House on the Prairie books were still cool and I dreamed of being an innocent outdoors-woman. Now... not so much. I found Elnora to be a little too perfect, I would have killed for a fault or two. She always obeys her mother, does, what it right,
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always helps her neighbors, never encourages young men. She's too good! I wanted some excitement. Her tempestuous mother I could at least relate to even though she was a b*tch. This book is the second in the Limberlost series although you needn't have read it. This story follows Elnora as she enters high school, enters society, and starts to earn money by collecting moths, butterflies, and other swamp specimen. She grows from a naive little country bumpkin to a refined little lady who is yards smarter and kinder than anyone else. Slow reading, but not bad. It's written well but would do best for younger readers.
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LibraryThing member TheLoisLevel
It's a little cheesy in places, but overall this book is great for it's love of the outdoors and the complicated emotions experienced by the adults.
LibraryThing member yhgail
I read this growing up. I reread about 20 years ago as I was curious about the understanding of the importance of wetlands and the story of a girl in love with nature. I remember it was an excellent book. Maybe I will read it again sometime to refresh my memory again.
LibraryThing member CMOBrien
I first read Elnora's story when I was 12, and I reread this favorite every June, for the moths.
LibraryThing member CSailin
I expected to learn about a forgotten time, a time when people worked the land, and girls wore dresses, and life was simple. But I seemed to be consumed with reflecting on the relationships in the story, and how even today, we suffer unnecessarily because of a lack of communication. Pride is a
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terrible thing, so is keeping secrets.
So many life lessons are learned while reading this story. All the characters have something to teach us. Gene Stratton-Porter was a great author.
Enjoyed learning about moths as well. Mrs. Comstock was my favorite character.
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LibraryThing member arelenriel
This was one of my grandmothers favorite books. I love the way that Statton-Porter describes the wetlands, and her ability to write a realistic character that does not come off as a goody two shoes is incredible.
LibraryThing member kslade
Good novel somewhat in the nature of Anne of Green Gables. Young woman is helped by nature to heal. I was looking at the time for something like Anne of Green Gables and found this one.




(359 ratings; 4.1)
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