I fell in love with Freckles when I was a young teen. The young adult romance, written in 1904, was high-drama and noble romance and spoke to me of the ability of love to transcend ideals and make them into reality. (It probably had something to do with why my first husband was a red-haired Irishman.)
The story takes place in the Limberlost Swamp of Indiana. The author’s love of place shines throughout the story and inspired my nascent love of wilderness. My life lesson included the understanding that these places needed to be protected; they were sacred. I also understood for the first time that human use of the land–in this case the harvest of timber–needed to be balanced. We needed timber to build homes, but take out all the timber, the woods are lost.
It was also where I first saw clearly that in order to love, truly love, another human being, one must love oneself first. It’s a lesson that I forgot time and time again. When the world feels like it’s against us, it’s hard to remember we are worthy of being loved. In order to accept love from his “Swamp Angel,” Freckles needed to regard himself as worthy of her love.
I read Freckles over and over as a teen. From the vantage point of fifty plus years later, I can acknowledge the book is sappy and a product of its time. But it’s impact on my life was significant, and the lessons I learned have stood the test of time.
Is there a fiction book that has influenced your life? Send a note to casey AT caseydawes dot com and let me know!