08 - Grandmother Elsie, Book 8, Marth Finley, hard cover

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The Elsie Dinsmore Novels, Martha Finley, in our opinion is the author of the best Series of novels that we have seen in our forty-three years of reviewing.

Written by Martha Finley, an unmarried teacher of the last century, these novels proved to be a means of conveying her deep love for Christ Jesus. She loved her Lord, she loved His Word, and this love was passed on to His sheep through the writing of by far the best and most Biblical novels you will ever read or see.

Altogether there are 28 of these novels, all built around Elsie Dinsmore, her immediate family, her extended family, and her neighbors.

Little Elsie inherited considerable riches, including a huge Louisiana plantation and valuable property in New Orleans. Her mother (only 16) died at Elsie’s birth. Her father (a year older) was in college. Their marriage was disapproved by both families. The father refused to have anything to do with Elsie until she was eight years of age. He a once objected to her constant adherence to Christian principles. For Elsie read her Bible daily, and knew it better than most Christian adults. The Father was proud and worldly, and was determined to mold Elsie in the same image. He could not force her to violate her conscience, which had been well schooled in the Bible and its teachings from babyhood by an old housekeeper and her Negro nurse. At last, upon his threat to put her into a nunnery, she became ill and at the point of death. The father was deliberately staying away. But when finally word came of her near death, he hastened to come. In her delirium Elsie thought he had come to put her into the Catholic nunnery, and she would not allow him in the room. The Dr. predicted she would not last the night. The father, conscience stricken, at last was born again through the regeneration of the Holy Spirit, but in repentance thought he had killed his daughter through his cruelties.

From that time on, the father and daughter were dedicated Christians, leading very happy lives together. Miss Finley’s novels sold more than 28,000,000 copies in the last century. This made them among the best-selling novels of all time. The astonishing thing about them is that they are chock full of the God-breathed words of the Bible. In this day of moral decline, there is a falling away from making the Scriptures the strict guide of our lives. Because of this there is a tendency to look upon any book that depicts a family that lives by the Book as too other-worldly for today’s readers. Don’t you believe it! She proved that it is possible to write a Biblical novel that is a joy to read? Good, inspirational writing is not hindered by the inclusion of the Scriptures that bear directly on the lives of the characters. In fact, you will conclude that the story is much enhanced by the scriptural content. This is because the words of God are not thrust in as an alien element, but are woven into the story as essential threads that make the reading of it a memorable experience. Every God-loving family needs these godly books. You, your family, friends, children of all ages will be blessed by page after page as they witness that whole families can live by the Scriptures and be happier than families not so signally blessed. There is plenty of drama, the kind that engages the heart and soul of the reader, yet without today’s emphasis on broken families and broken hearts. You will find warmth, tears, and other elements of a true-to-life novel. The characters are such as to teach right from wrong without preaching. Wise parents will read the first novel, Elsie Dinsmore to the little ones. As they grow older, and begin to read, they will want to read this first one for themselves. Then they will find pleasure in reading each one to the younger members of the family one after another.

There were 8 children born to her and her husband Edward before he died. One, Lily, had preceded him into heavenly bliss. They are Elsie, the oldest, Eddie, Violet, Harold, Herbert, Rosie and Walter.

 

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. It has only been in the last half-century that Elsie's popularity has faded. 312 pages, hard cover

Product Code: 1589602706

 

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