Topic | Elsie Dinsmore series — living books or twaddle?

This topic contains 10 replies, has 10 voices, and was last updated by  chocodog 4 years, 9 months ago.

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  • Sara Hagerty

    A few friends have recommended the Elsie Dinsmore series. I see that, given it’s original publication dates, it may likely not be twaddle — however, it appears that the originals have been modified and what is available now are modified versions.

    Can anyone weigh in on their experience with these books? Are they living books? Is there a way to get the originals that you know of?


    You can find audio recording of the originals at



    I was given these books as a child, and having read them then and then reviewed them again as an adult, I must say I would never give them to my daughter to read.  To me, yes, they are twaddle (even older books can be twaddle!), but more than that, the very strange father/daughter dynamic and the legalism apparently promoted in the series were a complete turn-off.  Definitely not a way I want my daughter thinking of her father. 🙂 

    This is born out by numerous other people I’ve talked to who read the book.  I have even heard it called “emotional incest.” 

    Just my two cents!


    Rebekah P

    I only read a few chapters of the first book with my daughter (felt she was a bit young and the time.)  I’m not sure why you would refer to these as twaddle.  I was under the impression that twaddle was “child like” or  “babyish.”  Personally, I didn’t feel these books fit that description.  From what I remeber, there was a lot of scripture in them and Elsie had a heart for wanting to do the right thing.  I’m not an expert on these books, but I think you should read a chapter or two and decide if they would be right for your family.



    I asked my 12 year old daughter her opinion of the books.  She read most of the older books and all of the newer ones.  She said the stories are the same, but with easier words in the newer ones.   She thinks they are beautiful books.  She said that the father/daughter relationship was not a good one until later in the book series, when things get straightened out.  We are definitely not a legalistic household, far from it.   I have never been in that type of environment, so perhaps I am not as sensitive to (or even aware of ) this type of thing as others would be.

    Her words, “These books are very, very good.  Elsie is very inspiring.  She teaches you that the Bible is not boring and she gives you a whole new way to look at it.  And it’s also a really good story that makes you cry of happiness sometimes.”   

     My older daughter, now 22, recommended them to her in the first place.  I have never read them.  I just wanted to share a different perspective.   I do think that I can see where Amanda is coming from with her assessment, but I don’t think it had those effects in my daughter’s case.   As always, each child is different.  



    I’ve never read the books, but have friends who have who have concerns.

    Doesn’t Elsie’s future husband (a friend of her father’s and therefore a man much older than her) fall “in love” with her when she’s a child? That would really make me concerned. I wouldn’t want my child to think that sort of attention or attraction from an adult is ok.

    Also, I know the “legalism” thing can be big for some people. For example, Elsie has extra-Biblical rules for Sabbath-keeping (like she can read The Pilgrim’s Progress but not a secular book.) She disobeys her dad over this “conviction” at age 8. That’s a moral dilema no parent wants to deal with, so why make it an example for a child?


    Yes….Missus Leata…that was one of the most disturbing things to me, and I forgot to include it.  The father’s friend basically thinking of a child as a woman? or as the woman she would become? Either way, a grown man can’t “fall in love” with a child (and with the child’s father’s complicity!), and it be okay, in my book.  That was the part that horrified my husband the most  (from an adult male perspective) when I was telling him about the books.  We both agreed…we would NEVER want our daughter to think that that kind of positive attention from an adult was okay. 



    I guess I think of the content being mentioned as an example of the way things used to be for some.  For instance, we read Sarah Morton’s Day recently.  She spoke of “getting the rod” for speaking out of turn, and I know there were a few other things that seemed strange to my children and would perhaps be bothersome to others if they saw them taking place today.  Also, girls used to marry much younger and to much older men, at times.  Marriage was often born more out of necessity than romance. 

    I am not at all trying to argue with anyone; just sharing some thoughts.  My daughter has read some of these books.  They were not a favorite, but she enjoyed them.



    We got one as an audio book and never finished it. I was also very disturbed by the father-daughter dynamic. I only know Elsie from this one book so all I know is that there was no mother and the dad called Elsie some very overly affectionate pet names and was very controlling of her. For instance she got in trouble for cutting her hair even though she previously didn’t know it was wrong and her father said it was wrong because it was his hair. The kids found the characters mostly too goody goody except one who was unequivocally bad and they ended up rooting for him because he was the only interesting one. I would say not really twaddle but too much or a moralizing book (something CM also frowned upon) with a really creepy (to me; kids wouldn’t get it) family dynamic.


    After recently researching this series, I’ve decided to not let my kids read it for some of the aforementioned reasons on this thread. I’m sure it wouldn’t scar my kids or anything, but with so many other options why bother with a book “in question”.


    I am glad you asked this question because I was thinking about this series of books also. I had also heard they were good. Thank you for bringing up the topic and thank you everyone else that answered so we could move that one out of our path before delving into a book that has some issues.  There are so many other good books out there. Why waste our time on ones we don’t feel are right for one reason or another. 

            Blessings to all of you !   I love to know what others think about books.  Thank YOu all!

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