Elsie Dinsmore

Elsie Dinsmore

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by Martha Finley

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The Elsie Dinsmore: A Life of Faith series is an adaptation of the best-selling 19th century Elsie Dinsmore novels written by Martha Finley. Besides updated, modern language, these editions have a stronger Christian message, added historical information, a family tree, and other new features designed to enhance the books. Set in the South in the mid- to-late…  See more details below


The Elsie Dinsmore: A Life of Faith series is an adaptation of the best-selling 19th century Elsie Dinsmore novels written by Martha Finley. Besides updated, modern language, these editions have a stronger Christian message, added historical information, a family tree, and other new features designed to enhance the books. Set in the South in the mid- to-late 1800s, the books tell the story of the life and spiritual commitment of Elsie Dinsmore, a charming young heroine whose Christian faith and hope guide her as she grows from childhood to adulthood. This boxed set of the popular fiction books for girls includes the first 4 titles in the series: Elsie's Endless Wait (Book 1), Elsie's Impossible Choice (Book 2), Elsie's New Life (Book 3), Elsie's Stolen Heart (Book 4).

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Children's Literature
This novel follows Elsie Dinsmore through a very difficult period in her life. Eight years old and living with her extended family on a southern plantation, she suffers from loneliness, abuse and wont of affection. Elsie relies on her absolute and unwavering Christian faith to survive these trials. Upon her father's return, Elsie imagines finding the parental love she has lacked since her mother's death. However, Mr. Dinsmore demands complete submission to his will and Elsie struggles with her fear of him and her inability to please him. Over time, as Elsie molds herself into her father's notion of perfection, they are finally able to show each other love and affection. While Elsie's travails are pitiable, the character is much too meek and yielding to be admired. Her overly wrought responses make her unrealistic and unsympathetic. Mr. Dinsmore's tyranny and abuse are also quite off-putting. The novel's emphasis on faith and piety make it seem more fitting, perhaps, as a tract for religious edification rather than popular entertainment. This book is a reprint of Book One in "The Original Elsie Classics" published in the mid-nineteenth century. 2000, Cumberland House, Ages 10 up, $5.95. Reviewer: Michele Gable

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Elsie Dinsmore

By Martha Finley

Hendrickson Publishers Marketing, LLC

Copyright © 1867 Hendrickson Publishers Marketing, LLC
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-59856-591-1


I never saw an eye so bright,
And yet so soft as hers;
It sometimes swam in liquid light,
And sometimes swam in tears;
It seemed a beauty set apart
For softness and for sighs.

—Mrs. Welby

The schoolroom at Roselands was a very pleasant apartment. The ceiling, it is true, was somewhat lower than in the more modern portion of the building. The wing in which it was situated dated back to the old-fashioned days prior to the Revolution, while the larger part of the mansion had not stood more than twenty or thirty years. The effect was relieved by windows reaching from floor to ceiling and opening on a veranda which overlooked a lovely flower-garden, beyond which were fields and woods and hills. The view from the veranda was very beautiful, and the room itself looked most inviting with its neat matting, its windows draped with snow-white muslin, its comfortable chairs, and pretty rosewood desks.

Within this pleasant apartment sat Miss Day with her pupils, six in number. She was giving a lesson to Enna, the youngest, the spoiled darling of the family, the favorite of both father and mother.

It was always a trying task to both teacher and scholar, for Enna was very willful, and her teacher's patience by no means inexhaustible.

"There!" exclaimed Miss Day, shutting the book and giving it an impatient toss on to the desk. "Go, for I might as well try to teach old Bruno. I presume he would learn about as fast."

And Enna walked away with a pout on her pretty face, muttering that she would "tell mamma."

"Young ladies and gentlemen," said Miss Day, looking at her watch, "I shall leave you to your studies for an hour, at the end of which time I shall return to hear your recitations. Those who have attended properly to their duties will be permitted to ride out with me to visit the fair."

"Oh, that will be jolly!" exclaimed Arthur, a bright-eyed, mischief-loving boy of ten.

"Hush!" said Miss Day sternly. "Let me hear no more such exclamations, and remember that you will not go unless your lessons are thoroughly learned. Louise and Lora," addressing two young girls of the respective ages of twelve and fourteen, "that French exercise must be perfect, and your English lessons as well." To a little girl of eight, sitting alone at a desk near one of the windows, and bending over a slate with an appearance of great industry, she said, "Elsie, every figure of that example must be correct, your geography lesson recited perfectly, and a page in your copybook written without a blot."

"Yes, ma'am," said the child meekly, raising a pair of large soft eyes of the darkest hazel for an instant to her teacher's face, and then dropping them again upon her slate.

"And see that none of you leave the room until I return," continued the governess. "Walter, if you miss one word of that spelling, you will have to stay at home and learn it over."

"Unless mamma interferes, as she will be pretty sure to do," muttered Arthur, as the door closed on Miss Day, and her retreating footsteps were heard passing down the hall.

For about ten minutes after her departure, all was quiet in the schoolroom, each seemingly completely absorbed in study. But at the end of that time Arthur sprang up, and, flinging his book across the room, exclaimed, "There! I know my lesson, and if I didn't, I shouldn't study another bit for old Day, nor Night either."

"Do be quiet, Arthur," said his sister Louise. "I can't study in such a racket."

Arthur stole on tiptoe across the room, and coming up behind Elsie, tickled the back of her neck with a feather.

She started, saying in a pleading tone, "Please, Arthur, don't."

"It pleases me to do so," he said, repeating the experiment.

Elsie changed her position, saying in the same gentle, persuasive tone, "Oh, Arthur! Please let me alone, or I never shall be able to do this example."

"What! All this time on one example! You ought to be ashamed. Why, I could have done it half a dozen times over."

"I have been over and over it," replied the little girl in a tone of despondency, "and still there are two figures that will not come out right."

"How do you know they are not right, little puss?" shaking her curls as he spoke.

"Oh, please, Arthur, don't pull my hair! I have the answer—that's the way, I know."

"Well, then, why don't you just set the figures down. I would."

"Oh, no, indeed! That would not be honest."

"Pooh! Nonsense! Nobody would be the wiser, nor the poorer."

"No, but it would be just like telling a lie. But I can never get it right while you are bothering me so," said Elsie, laying aside her slate in despair. Then taking out her geography, she began studying most diligently. But Arthur continued his persecutions—tickling her, pulling her hair, twitching the book out of her hand, and talking almost incessantly, making remarks, and asking questions, till at last Elsie said, as if just ready to cry, "Indeed, Arthur, if you don't let me alone, I shall never be able to get my lessons."

"Go away then. Take your book out on the veranda, and learn your lessons there," said Louise. "I'll call when Miss Day comes."

"Oh, no, Louise! I cannot do that, because it would be disobedience," replied Elsie, taking out her writing materials.

Arthur stood over her criticizing every letter she made, and finally jogged her elbow in such a way as to cause her to drop all the ink in her pen upon the paper, making quite a large blot.

"Oh!" cried the little girl, bursting into tears. "Now I shall lose my ride, for Miss Day will not let me go, and I was so anxious to see all those beautiful flowers."

Arthur, who was really not very vicious, felt some compunctions when he saw the mischief he had done. "Never mind, Elsie," said he, "I can fix it yet. Just let me tear out this page, and you can begin again on the next, and I'll not bother you. I'll make these two figures come out right too," he added, taking up her slate.

"Thank you, Arthur," said the little girl, smiling through her tears. "You are very kind, but it would not be honest to do either, and I would rather stay at home than be deceitful."

"Very well, miss," said he, tossing his head, and walking away, "since you won't let me help you, it is all your own fault if you have to stay home."

"Elsie," exclaimed Louise, "I have no patience with you! Such ridiculous scruples as you are always raising. I shall not pity you one bit, if you are obliged to stay at home."

Elsie made no reply, but, brushing away a tear, bent over her writing, taking great pains with every letter, though saying sadly to herself all the time, "It's no use, for that great ugly blot will spoil it all."

She finished her page, and, excepting the unfortunate blot, it all looked very neat indeed, showing plainly that it had been written with great care. She then took up her slate and patiently went over and over every figure of the troublesome example, trying to discover where her mistake had been. But much time had been lost through Arthur's teasing, and her mind was so disturbed by the accident to her writing that she tried in vain to fix it upon the business at hand. Before the two troublesome figures had been made right, the hour was past and Miss Day returned.

"Oh," thought Elsie, "if she will only hear the others first, I may be able to get this and the geography ready yet; and perhaps, if Arthur will be generous enough to tell her about the blot, she may excuse me for it."

But it was a vain hope. Miss Day had no sooner seated herself at her desk, than she called, "Elsie, come here and say that lesson, and bring your copybook and slate, that I may examine your work."

Elsie tremblingly obeyed.

The lesson, though a difficult one, was very tolerably recited, for Elsie, knowing Arthur's propensity for teasing, had studied it in her own room before school hours. But Miss Day handed back the book with a frown, saying, "I told you the recitation must be perfect, and it was not."

She was always more severe with Elsie than with any other of her pupils.

"There are two incorrect figures in this example," said she, laying down the slate, after glancing over its contents. Then taking up the copybook, she exclaimed, "Careless, disobedient child! Did I not caution you to be careful not to blot your book! There will be no ride for you this morning. You have failed in everything. Go to your seat. Make that example right, and do the next. Learn your geography lesson over, and write another page in your copybook—and mind, if there is a blot on it, you will get no dinner."

Weeping and sobbing, Elsie took up her books and obeyed.

During this scene Arthur stood at his desk pretending to study, but glancing every now and then at Elsie, with a conscience evidently ill at ease. She cast an imploring glance at him, as she returned to her seat, but he turned away his head, muttering, "It's all her own fault, for she wouldn't let me help her."

As he looked up again, he caught his sister Lora's eyes fixed on him with an expression of scorn and contempt. He colored violently, and dropped his gaze upon his book.

"Miss Day," said Lora indignantly, "I see Arthur does not mean to speak, and as I cannot bear to see such injustice, I must tell you that it is all his fault that Elsie has failed in her lessons. She tried her best, but he teased her incessantly, and also jogged her elbow and made her spill the ink on her book. To her credit she was too honorable to tear out the leaf from her copybook, or to let him make her example right—both of which he very generously proposed doing after causing all the mischief."

"Is this so, Arthur?" asked Miss Day angrily.

The boy hung his head, but made no reply.

"Very well, then," said Miss Day, "you too must stay at home."

"Surely," said Lora, in surprise, "you will not keep Elsie, since I have shown you that she was not to blame."

"Miss Lora," replied her teacher, haughtily, "I wish you to understand that I am not to be dictated to by my pupils."

Lora bit her lip, but said nothing, and Miss Day went on hearing the lessons without further remark.

In the meantime, little Elsie sat at her desk, striving to conquer the feelings of anger and indignation that were swelling in her heart. Elsie, though she possessed much of "the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit," was not yet perfect, and often had a fierce contest with her naturally quick temper. Yet it was seldom, very seldom, that word or tone or look betrayed the existence of such feelings, and it was a common remark in the family that Elsie had no spirit.

The recitations were scarcely finished when the door opened and a lady entered dressed for a ride.

"Not through yet, Miss Day?" she asked.

"Yes, madam, we are just done," replied the teacher, closing the French grammar and handing it to Louise.

"Well, I hope your pupils have all done their duty this morning, and are ready to accompany us to the fair," said Mrs. Dinsmore. "But what is the matter with Elsie?"

"She has failed in all her exercises, and therefore has been told that she must remain at home," replied Miss Day with heightened color and in a tone of anger. "As Miss Lora tells me that Master Arthur was partly the cause, I have forbidden him also to accompany us."

"Excuse me, Miss Day, for correcting you," said Lora, a little indignantly, "but I did not say partly for I am sure that it was entirely his fault."

"Hush, hush, Lora," said her mother, a little impatiently. "How can you be sure of any such thing? Miss Day, I must beg of you to excuse Arthur this once, for I have quite set my heart on taking him along. He is fond of mischief, I know, but he is only a child, and you must not be too hard upon him."

"Very well, madam," replied the governess stiffly. "You have, of course, the best right to control your own children."

Mrs. Dinsmore turned to leave the room.

"Mamma," asked Lora, "is not Elsie to be allowed to go too?"

"Elsie is not my child, and I have nothing to say about it. Miss Day, who knows all the circumstances, is much better able than I to judge whether or not she is deserving of punishment," replied Mrs. Dinsmore, sailing out of the room.

"You will let her go, Miss Day?" said Lora, inquiringly.

"Miss Lora," replied Miss Day, angrily, "I have already told you I was not to be dictated to. I have said Elsie must remain at home, and I shall not break my word."

"Such injustice!" muttered Lora, turning away.

"Lora," said Louise, impatiently, "why need you concern yourself with Elsie's affairs? For my part, I have no pity for her, so full as she is of nonsensical scruples."

Miss Day crossed the room to where Elsie was sitting leaning her head upon the desk, struggling hard to keep down the feelings of anger and indignation aroused by the unjust treatment she had received.

"Did I not order you to learn that lesson over?" said the governess. "And why are you sitting here idling?"

Elsie dared not speak lest her anger should show itself in words, so she merely raised her head, and hastily brushing away her tears, opened the book. But Miss Day, who was irritated by Mrs. Dinsmore's interference, and also by the consciousness that she was acting unjustly, seemed determined to vent her displeasure upon her innocent victim.

"Why do you not speak?" she exclaimed, seizing Elsie by the arm and shaking her violently. "Answer me this instant. Why have you been idling all the morning?"

"I have not," replied the child hastily, stung to the quick by her unjust violence. "I have tried hard to do my duty, and you are punishing me when I don't deserve it at all."

"How dare you? There! Take that for your impertinence," said Miss Day, giving her a box on the ear.

Elsie was about to make a still more angry reply, but she restrained herself, and turning to her book, tried to study, though the hot, blinding tears came so thick and fast that she could not see a letter.

"De carriage am waiting, ladies, an' missus in a hurry," said a servant, opening the door, and Miss Day hastily left the room, followed by Louise, Lora, and the others, and Elsie was left alone.

She laid down the geography, and opening her desk, she took out a small pocket Bible, which bore the marks of frequent use. She turned over the leaves as though seeking for some particular passage. At length she found it, and wiping away the blinding tears, she read these words in a low, murmuring tone:

"For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? But if when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called; because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example that ye should follow His steps."

"Oh! I have not done it. I did not take it patiently. I am afraid I am not following in His steps," she cried, bursting into an agony of tears and sobs.

"My dear little girl, what is the matter?" asked a kind voice, and a soft hand was gently laid on her shoulder.

The child looked up hastily. "Oh, Miss Allison!" she said. "Is it you? I thought I was quite alone."

"And so you were, my dear, until this moment," replied the lady, drawing up a chair, and sitting down close beside her. "I was on the veranda, and hearing sobs, came in to see if I could be of any assistance. You look very much distressed. Will you not tell me the cause of your sorrow?"

Elsie answered only by a fresh burst of tears.

"They have all gone to the fair and left you at home alone—perhaps to learn a lesson you have failed in reciting?" said the lady, inquiringly.

"Yes, ma'am," said the child, "but that is not the worst." And her tears fell faster, as she laid the little Bible on the desk, and pointed with her finger to the words she had been reading. "Oh!" she sobbed. "I—I did not do it. I did not bear it patiently. I was treated unjustly, and punished when I was not to blame, and I grew angry. Oh, I'm afraid I shall never be like Jesus! Never, never."


Excerpted from Elsie Dinsmore by Martha Finley. Copyright © 1867 Hendrickson Publishers Marketing, LLC. Excerpted by permission of Hendrickson Publishers Marketing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Elsie Dinsmore 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 58 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This has to be the best book EVER! I LOVE ELSIE although.......Her father makes me Soooo angry sometimes GOSH! I can guarantee that when you read this book you will want to smack him SILLY! THIS IS A BOOK THAT WILL MAKE YOU HAPPY AND IF YOU ARE A CHRISTIAN IT WILL MAKE YOU THINK ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD:) I highly reccomend that you read this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I agree with some people, that Elsie is VERY perfect. It makes me mad sometimes. And it is like her dad is her husband at times. Its a little weird....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thare is a few mistakes threwout the book but overall it is a great book. Good book to have a better relationship with God. If you do not have a relatinship with God read the seres. Look for more #love!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Absolutly amazing! I love these books!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don't like Elsie cuz she is almost too " perfect " kwim? Her relationship with her dad is like that of a husband and wife almost.... And hw many 8 yr olds do you know like that? I am a christian girl, and while Elsie relationship with God is wonderful, I don't like her. And wouldn't reccomend these to anyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Elsie is an excellent example of a good kid!! Whenever i read her i always remember Ephesians 6:1, which says "Children, obey your parents in the Lord for this isright. And when her dad is super mean i think of verse 4 "Fathers do not exasperate yoour children, instead bring them up in the training and insruction of the Lord. This book was very inspiring and great for anybody. It is a breathe of sweet air compared to the stuffy immoral novels deluded souls read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fall in love with the sweetest little girl
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I first read this entire series when I was very young - probably between ten and twelve, which would have been more than seventy-five years ago. I still find it heart-warming, emotional, and based on a deep Christianity.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love elsie dinsmore books!! Sometimes i wonder how her dad can be so mean to her. I mean he has the perfect girl in the world. I recomend this book for 8year old to 80 year old. This book is awesome!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read these before but i guess not this version. Some of the words are extremely mispelled and u have to guess what the word is suppossed to be. There is also just random words in between the paragraphs. But for the main part i recommend this book!
flutielibrarian More than 1 year ago
This book is so inspiring! It brought me closer to God and it makes me feel like Elsie is a sister of mine sometimes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i have read the 1st four books and LOVE them, are they available in the free ebooks? i cant find them, but there are soooo many to go through. anyone know?
Guest More than 1 year ago
Elsie Dinsmore is the best!! not only are the stories really interesting,but the good character taught in them is somthing not found in books today.Elsie is a GREAT role model!
Guest More than 1 year ago
My daugter and I read the Elsie Dinsmore books and we couldn´t put them down. There are so many girls out here in this day and age that need a role model like her. My daugter is only 7 years old and she has really fell in love with Elsie. She hurts when Elsie hurts and she loves when Elsie loves and also forgives as Elsie forgives. Even though this is fiction it seems sooooo true and real. Martha Finley 'You go girl.'
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read these books as a child. Now, I am a Grandmother, and want to give it to my Grandaughter, who loves to read. I have been looking for this series for quite some time, with no luck. I could not believe my eyes when it showed up on here. I am so happy!! Although, I have ordered it for my 8 year old Grandaughter, I look forward to reading the Elsie Dinsmore series, all over again.
Guest More than 1 year ago
the elsie dinsmore books are awesome! they have inspired me so much. they talk about different characteristics and they are just really, really good!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great book and shows how you should look to God. She is meek but the Bible says'Blessed are the meek and just because you don't meet people like her everyday doesn't mean she can't be a good role model. And Mr.Dinsmore is not a tyrant. He is stern but there are much worse crimes. I loved it and can't wait to read the rest of the series
Guest More than 1 year ago
i loved reading this book and the rest of the series. i give this more than 5 stars because it is such an awesome book!! if you haven't read this book, do so.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this series as a child. The set I read was published in 1878 and it was given to me by an aunt who had also read the series. My daughter has read them now. Not only is it a southern story about a little girl who grows up with the series, it has a great deal of history. I credit my early reading of this series with my lifelong interest in history.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book when I was very young.My mother owned the first three of the series.I read and reread them too many times to count.My daughter now ownes them and loves them as I did.Read these wonderful books. They will make a remarkable impression upon you.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think this book is great, and would recommend it to everyone. They should reprint the whole series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I admire elsie's relationship with God, but it always seems exaggerated. Like, 'Her sweet, childish voice was so clear while repeating the verse, that it did one good to hear her.' That's what I mean, it's always exaggerating it. Also, about a fifth of the book is wasted saying how she wept, sobbed, or cried. I would have to agree with her father, she cries waaaayyyy too much. Over all, it was an okay book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love the Elsie Dinsmore series!!!! I suggest everyone read this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love these book! This is a touching story. I admit i cried in the end. This is a must read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its not a normal old-timey book.