Monday, August 15, 2016

Book Review: Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, by Kate Douglas Wiggin

Just in case you can't tell, I'm trying to catch up on posting about various books I have read or listened to recently. If you want to learn about family life, I think you will have to check our family blog.
Maybe sometime I will find time to post some pictures of us...

Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm
By Kate Douglas Wiggin
Rating:  6 out of 10 stars

    Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm is a humorous story about a young, imaginative, poetic girl whose lively personality is suddenly superimposed upon her elderly aunts’ strict, sober minded, and extremely practical and thrifty lifestyle.  Similar to Anne of Green Gables in that it is a story about a child with very little in common with her guardians, and focuses more on daily life and small struggles than on any great climax, this book follows Rebecca as she grows, matures, and finally graduates college and inherits her aunts’ home.

My thoughts:

    While this book is certainly fun to read, and is very well written, there is a strong undertone of resistance to authority.  It portrays childhood as a time of sweet innocency which is crushed and destroyed by rules and authority figures.  Christianity is portrayed as being rather hypocritical, though certainly very proper and right.  But the common “all roads lead to heaven” doctrine is present too, and Rebecca’s view on missionaries is particularly insightful:  "I can't make up my mind to be a missionary," Rebecca answered. "I'm not good enough in the first place, and I don't 'feel a call,' as Mr. Burch says you must. I would like to do something for somebody and make things move, somewhere, but I don't want to go thousands of miles away teaching people how to live when I haven't learned myself. It isn't as if the heathen really needed me; I'm sure they'll come out all right in the end."

"I can't see how; if all the people who ought to go out to save them stay at home as we do," argued Emma Jane.

"Why, whatever God is, and wherever He is, He must always be there, ready and waiting. He can't move about and miss people. It may take the heathen a little longer to find Him, but God will make allowances, of course. He knows if they live in such hot climates it must make them lazy and slow; and the parrots and tigers and snakes and bread-fruit trees distract their minds; and having no books, they can't think as well; but they'll find God somehow, some time."

    So while it is an entertaining story, and great fun to read, it conveys very little real value, other than being an example of literary excellence, and has a pretty serious downside.  While I do not think it is a sin to read this book, there are so many better ones to be read that I think it, and other books of its class, should not form a large percentage of a Christian’s literary diet.


  1. Thanks for this excellent review! It helped me decide against reading to my littles as we have lots of other books with more value in our line up:)

    1. Thank you for letting me know! It is encouraging to hear from you.