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Elsie and the Raymonds - Collector's Edition, Book 15 of 28 Book Series, Martha Finley, Paperback Paperback – July 15, 2009

118 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1589605145 ISBN-10: 1589605144

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Biographical sketches on Martha Finley agree that she was born in Chillicothe, Ohio, in April, 1828, the daughter of Dr. James Brown Finley and his wife and first cousin, Maria Theresa Brown Finley, and that she lived a quiet life. In spite of this—or perhaps because of it—her biographers seem to have considerable trouble agreeing on much else about her life. She was born either April 26 or April 28 and lived in Circleville, Ohio, until she was six [3] or eight, when the family moved to South Bend, Indiana. Except for a year at school in Philadelphia, she lived in South Bend until 1853, when she was twenty-five, possibly teaching in Indiana schools from 1851-1853. In 1853, her parents or father died, and she moved either to Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, to teach, or to New York for a year. In 1854, she either moved to an unspecified town in Pennsylvania, to write for the Presbyterian Publishing Board. Martha Finley is best known for her Elsie Dinsmore series, melodramatic and sentimental fiction focusing on Elsie's trials and the solace offered her by her religious beliefs. Originally written under the pseudonym "Martha Farquharson" (Gaelic for "Finley"), the series lasted for 28 volumes, published over a period of 38 years. Much has been written about the series, discussing everything from its tear-soaked heroine and her relationship with her father to its enduring popularity during the 19th century. Elsie, however, was only a little over a quarter of Ms. Finley's total works. A second series, Mildred Keith, ran for seven volumes and chronicles the life of Mildred Keith and her family as well providing glimpses of Elsie Dinsmore's early years. Mildred is a slightly more realistic character than Elsie, with spunk and independence and without Elsie's perpetual penchant for tears and Biblical quotations. Martha Finley also wrote more than fifty short books or pamphlets, primarily for children, which were published by the Presbyterian Board of Publication and/or the Presbyterian Publishing Committee. The majority of these appeared between 1856 and 1876 in series or as individual volumes. Their titles and publishers suggest that they, too, were didactic literature, with a strong emphasis on religion. Much of Martha Finley's writing was quickly forgotten, but Elsie persevered for over seventy-five years. In 1945, the first 12 volumes were still in print in the United States and England and had sold over 5,000,000 million copies.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 332 pages
  • Publisher: Sovereign Grace Publishers, Inc. (July 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1589605144
  • ISBN-13: 978-1589605145
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (118 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,324,560 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

76 of 83 people found the following review helpful By Phillip Stephens on May 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
I hadn't thought of Elsie Dinsmore in several years. I just found out recently that this was an entire series--approximately 25 volumes I think. The way I became acquainted with the book at all was I was at my grandparents house one day, prowling around in the barn. There was a room on one side that had a roof over it instead of just rafters and I climbed up there and found all kinds of amazing things. My father and Uncle and Aunt had all left stuff behind when they grew up and it was stored here. There was a copy of Elsie Dinsmore up there. The front and back of the book were missing and it was written back before they used acid-free paper and the pages were brittle but I carried that book home with me and read it and thought it was one of the best books I'd ever read. I was probably about 8 years old at the time (actually I've forgotten), but at any rate I was thrilled to find out this book was part of an entire series. I just found out tonight that they are available at Amazon.com and that pleases me very much.
I would like to point out that (I read several reviews) while some people refer to them as sappy and that Elsie was too sweet to be real, these books were written for children, young children and were written at a time in history when the idea was that the main character of a book (especially for kids) should be (Gasp! Shock!) -- likeable. And Elsie certainly was. These books are perfect for small children. They are books that can be read and/or shared by the entire family, especially if you read to your children before bedtime (which doesn't seem to happen too much these days) but rest assured you can tuck your child(ren) in and read aloud to them and not worry about profanity, sex or any of the other things that might be objectionable for young children.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful By R. Packard on February 17, 2006
Format: Paperback
I first read this book when I was about 12. I can understand why some people would not like it. It is very Christian, Elsie is very weepy, and the story is somewhat melodramatic. However, taken along with the next 3 or 4 books, it is a wonderful series.

As a Catholic I do not agree with some of Elsie's beliefs, but I still enjoyed reading, and re-reading this book. Elsie's Christian faith is the essential ingredient in the plot of this and many of the following books.

In the first book, many of the extraneous characters are not well developed, not even Elsie's father, if memory serves. But the need to know the outcome of poor Elsie's fate drove me on. Over the course of the next three books, many of the characters are fleshed out. Especially, Mr. Travillia, Ms. Adelaide, Elsie's father, her cousins Arthur and Edward, as well as Elsie herself. The characters grow and the plot flourishes along with them. Many of the seemingly minor characters take on much more prominent roles, and many relationships are deepened and broadened.

These books must also be taken in historical, and social, context. Elsie is a wealthy white girl living in the pre-Civil War South. Again, in later books, Elsie's world develops, and is especially influenced by the War, as one will discover if one keeps reading.

This series is quite extensive, and although I loved the first four or five, books, I petered out after the books began to focus more on Elsie's children.

Overall, I would recommend this book, along with its sequels, to anyone looking for a good read (and cry). :)
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 10, 2012
Format: Paperback
Elsie cries a lot. A lot. She's a whiny little child who waits for other people to discover the good in her without putting forth any good, only a lot of hand-wringing and constant reminders that she is Christian, and that's what really bothered me about this book. There's no internalization. We have to be reminded that Elsie is Christian three times every page, it seems like, because there's nothing under the skin to it. Elsie doesn't live Christian, she whines Christian.

I agree that Elsie's father is creepy, though I don't really agree that the sexual undertones are anything more than style conventions of the time, not that dissimilar to what you'd find in Five Little Peppers, for example. What I found disturbing was how much he treated Elsie as though she was a dog, which I suppose is also a conceit of the time. Take, for example, the scene towards the end of the book where Lucy gives Elsie sweets and a book, which Elsie refuses to eat and read until her father has given her permission. I just keep picturing her as a dog trained to leave food until given the command to eat it. That's the thing that really bugs me about this book: Elsie isn't really a person. She's like a dog who barks on command. There's very little personality or spirit to her, but she's very well trained in the piano and identifying flowers and all that stuff. Everything she does is in reaction to someone else: there's a part where her cousin (uncle?) asks to borrow money for a toy he wants, and Elsie pretends that she's going to think it over, then sends a slave to buy it as a present. It's supposed to show how sweet and generous she is, but it doesn't, because she has no personality and so it seems contrived and moralistic.
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Elsie and the Raymonds - Collector's Edition, Book 15 of 28 Book Series, Martha Finley, Paperback
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