Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm: Wholesome, Not Subtle

Rebecca peers over fence on cover of Rebecca of Sunnybrook FarmRebecca of Sunnybrook Farm is a sunny novel, wholesome as granola, each chapter packed with the minimum daily requirement of aphorisms.

Aurelia Randall’s spinster sisters offer her oldest child a home.  Aurelia sends Rebecca, her second child, instead. The eldest child is more conscientious and thus less easily spared by her widowed mother.

Rebecca is a basically a good child, but she’s also an imaginative, impulsive chatterbox.

Aunt Miranda, who likes things tidy, finds Rebecca’s imaginative chatter and impulsive behavior a sore trial.

Aunt Jane finds Rebecca’s liveliness a welcome relief from her sister’s unvarying routine.

After a rather rocky start, Rebecca turns her attention on getting a good education so she can help her mother pay off the mortgage and give the younger children a better chance in life.

In 1904, adults would have regarded Kate Douglas Wiggin’s Rebecca as good reading for young people. Today I’m afraid it would be regarded either as a dull, moral tract or as bizarre, fantasy fiction. Either interpretation shows how society has changed since 1904.

Wiggin’s Rebecca isn’t on a par with Anne of Green Gables or The Yearling but the story has charm and a quiet tongue-in-cheek wit that makes it still worth reading today.

Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm
By Kate Douglas Wiggin
Project Gutenberg ebook #498
1904 Bestseller #8
My grade: B-

The book cover is from the Thorndike large print edition of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, one of several versions of the novel available in print today.

© 2014 Linda Gorton Aragoni

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Linda Aragoni

I read. I write. I think. I make big ideas simple. I help teachers teach expository writing to teens and adults. In my free time, I read and review old novels.

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