After the success of my Young Ladies Literary Tea for An Old Fashioned Girl, I had high hopes for our second meeting, Freckles & A Girl of the Limberlost. Due to some logistical complications, we had to move the tea to my house. As I said in my last article, this is a grand experiment and we are learning. We learned that my house is not the right place for a tea. As lovely as my home is, I am not nearly as well set up for a tea party as Giovanna is, so we had to have our tea in one room and our discussion in another. It lacked the lovely formality of our first meeting. We learned!

Despite the less than ideal settings, just over a dozen young ladies, a few mamas, and I did have a lovely afternoon together! One of the young ladies made a spice cake reminiscent of Mrs. Comstock’s, and another brought old-fashioned cherry soda like the Angel made for Freckles.

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Because this club involved two books instead of just one, we had the opportunity to compare Porter’s writing in the first and second books. We all collectively rolled our eyes at the ending of the Freckles. We disagreed over whether or not Elnora was too perfect. Some girls likened Elnora to Emily Starr of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Emily books. Some girls thought that Freckles was a far superior story to Girl, and some felt it was the other way around. More than a few girls did not believe that Mrs. Comstock was a credible character in either of her extremes. Practically no one like The Angel at all. We giggled, we groaned, and we fought for our favorite characters. All of us, however, knew that the Bird Woman was special, and we could agree on the necessity of her character.

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Some of the most useful questions for this discussion were:

  1. What did you think of Porter writing herself into the story as The Bird Woman?
  2. Which characters did you find to be the most believable?
  3. Do these books remind you of any other books?
  4. How would you have written the ending to Freckles?
  5. How would you have changed A Girl of the Limberlost?
  6. How did the story pace feel to you in each of the books?
  7. Which title character did you like more and why?

Before we finished our discussion, I shared this photo with the girls so that they could have a stunning visual of the Luna and Empress Moth dresses that Elnora and Edith wore. Thank you to my friend, Elizabeth Laumas, for sharing this photo with us!

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While it was a lot of reading to have two books to read for our club instead of just one, I think that it paid huge dividends in that it allowed us to do some critical thinking through comparison. The girls liked it so much, in fact, that in our next book club, the Rose Campbell books from Louisa May Alcott, the girls overwhelmingly voted to replace our December Emily of Deep Valley by Maud Hart Lovelace with the *four* Betsy Tacy high school books! My young ladies are enjoying the “read and compare” approach!

We have an entire series on the Young Ladies Literary Teas. You can find them here.