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In Freckles, a homeless waif finds his deliverance in the primeval Limberlost swamp. Maimed and abandoned as an infant, Freckles seeks a chance to prove his worth. He is given that opportunity as the guard of the precious timber of the Limberlost.

368 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1904

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About the author

Gene Stratton-Porter

164 books561 followers
She was an American author, amateur naturalist, wildlife photographer, and one of the earliest women to form a movie studio and production company. She wrote some of the best selling novels and well-received columns in magazines of the day.

Born Geneva Grace Stratton in Wabash County, Indiana, she married Charles D. Porter in 1886, and they had one daughter, Jeannette.

She became a wildlife photographer, specializing in the birds and moths in one of the last of the vanishing wetlands of the lower Great Lakes Basin. The Limberlost and Wildflower Woods of northeastern Indiana were the laboratory and inspiration for her stories, novels, essays, photography, and movies. Although there is evidence that her first book was "Strike at Shane's", which was published anonymously, her first attributed novel, The Song of the Cardinal met with great commercial success. Her novels Freckles and A Girl of the Limberlost are set in the wooded wetlands and swamps of the disappearing central Indiana ecosystems she loved and documented. She eventually wrote over 20 books.

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5 stars
4,910 (43%)
4 stars
3,713 (32%)
3 stars
1,966 (17%)
2 stars
458 (4%)
1 star
245 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 820 reviews
Profile Image for Teresa Carrigan.
354 reviews69 followers
January 6, 2013
This book was written several generations ago. When I first read it (more than 40 years ago?) it was a bit dated already, but a basic coming of age plus love interest story, with a lot of tidbits about nature thrown in. Rereading it now, I found myself noticing the cultural differences between now and when it was written. Most noticeable were these:

1. Class stratification. Upper class people were just plain not supposed to even think about marrying those from the lower class, particularly if it was likely that they were bastards or not of good breeding.

2. Good manners and ethics are apparently something that can be inherited, even if you were abandoned as an infant and raised in an orphanage. Good breeding will obviously overcome any "home environment".

3. Clearing a swamp that is home to all kinds of rare animals, birds, insects, trees, etc, is progress, and that is a good thing. Yes, take photos of them first, and collect specimens, but do go ahead and clear the swamp.

4. Shooting an otter so that its pelt could be made into a muff for a gift was a good idea. Nobody even considered whether the recipient might not have preferred to allow the otter to live.

So this time instead of paying particular attention to all the tidbits about birds, trees, flowers, etc - I found myself reading it more like an historian or sociologist, and marveling at just how much American culture has changed in the last hundred years.
Profile Image for Toni Miranda.
197 reviews2 followers
July 27, 2013
(Spoiler alert!) I chose this because I absolutely LOVE Laddie (also by the author). This one was okay. I would have given it one more star, but I didn't like the ending. Freckles was an orphan who didn't know his parents and who had a terrible childhood, but he turned into an honest, honorable young man. I didn't like that in the end it was inferred that he could only be such a fine young man if his parents had been rich or of noble birth. And then of course it turns out that he is the son of a Lord. So what! One doesn't have to be rich to be good - in fact I think being rich actually makes it harder to be virtuous and honorable. It wasn't Freckles parentage that made him the man he was, it was his decisions and choices. He chose not to lie and steal. He chose to be a man of his word. He chose to love others. It had nothing to do with being a "lord".
Profile Image for Jessaka.
901 reviews137 followers
April 6, 2018
I began reading Gene Stratton-Porter's book when I was a teenager, and I realize now that as an adult, they are rather boring, at least to me.
I began reading Gene Stratton-Porter's book when I was a teenager, and I realize now, as an adult, they are rather boring to me, or at least this one was.

"Freckles" is a story about a one-handed man who is hired by a lumber company to keep other people from stealing trees in the Limberlost. As a naturalist, Gene Statton-Porter evidently sees nothing wrong with this picture. All trees should be saved. And moths and butterflies should not be pinned on a board to save, as she had done in her other book/books.

The interesting thing about the Limberlost is the real story: The Limberlost aka Loblolly Swamp covered 13,000 acres in Indiana at one time. Now, it is being revitalized. The name Limberlost came from a true story about a man named James Miller who was tall and limber. He went out into the swamp one day and never returned, so since his nickname was Limber Jim, the swamp became named Limberlost. But the another story says that it was named after Jim Corbus, who went hunting and disappeared in the swamp.
I am going with the first one.
Profile Image for Tweety.
433 reviews203 followers
March 20, 2015
Even better than A Girl Of The Limberlost!

Freckles is and Irish orphan who has spent nearly all twenty of his years in a foundling home, stories abound of how, when he was only a few months old he was brutally beaten and left more dead than alive on the orphanage steps. Freckles wishes he knew for sure that it wasn't his mother who left him, that she loved him just as much as normal mothers do, after all, isn't that what every orphan dreams of?

Even once he has moved on to work as the Limberlost guard, he can't banish the worry that he was always unwanted. (he's emotionally scarred, no doubt from the taunts of other orphans) But, that is not to say he isn't loved now, he quickly won the trust, respect and love of his Boss, who wishes that Freckles was his son and the admiration of "The Swamp Angel", a young girl who works with The Butterfly Woman collecting her specimens. But for some reason that isn't enough for Freckles, he needs to know the truth about himself, and it's left to Angel to find it, if not for him, for herself…

I can't believe I liked this so much more that A Girl Of The Limberlost, but I did. Freckles is a lovable, imperfect hero, in more ways than one; He's scarred both inside and out and he does the unthinkable by falling in love with a girl far above his station in life, someone he'll never be worthy of. (That's what he thinks anyway)

The descriptions are beautiful, I could see the Limberlost in colour because of them, I saw the fear, loneliness, and wonder of the swamp, what could be better?

My only complaint is this: I feel that Freckles should have let go of the past sooner, and moved on. His parentage didn't matter to his friends, why should he continue to be tormented by it? Some ideas in this book are rather old-fashioned, or out of date. I have always detested the thought that you can tell just by seeing how someone behaves whether they have upperclass parentage, since those things are all "in the blood". That's rubbish when you are off the streets! Someone lower class can be just as good as someone upperclass, Imo.

Other than that I really loved this book, and don't know why I didn't pick it up before.

G rating for this sweet, heartfelt read. Definitely a reread!

(Found at http://landandlit.iweb.bsu.edu/Enviro...)
Profile Image for Mela.
1,539 reviews205 followers
July 4, 2017
It was a charming tale. A sweet love story, a harmony of the nature, good and brave people, honorable and devoted feelings. In other words an old fashioned story.

One can't expect reality. If one does expect one will be disappointed. Because although there aren't dragons or magic fairies, such stories are too sweet to be true.

I think that if I had read it in a better matched mood I would have enjoyed it a little more. But still, I can appreciate a classic tale for young people. And I am going to read A Girl of the Limberlost (a sequel) in the future.

I have one objection:
Profile Image for Teri.
1,358 reviews
October 29, 2014
A few of my friends had responded to the 10 book facebook challenge where you list 10 books that were meaningful to you in some way. A few people had mentioned "A Girl of the Limberlost" by Gene Stratton-Porter. Years earlier a co-worker had mentioned it and I had put it on my list and bought it on kindle. This book has kept haunting me so I felt it was time to finally read it. I went to look it up again and on goodreads it said Limberlost 2. Surprised, I looked up the first one in the series and lo and behold I found, "Freckles." I LOVED it. Such a good read. Great characters, especially Freckles. It started a little slow for me. I think it was getting used to the language. It was written in the early 1900's. My husband is reading it now and loving it. I knew this book would be up his alley because he loves nature and animals and this book describes it so well. It also is a good story of integrity and morals. The storyline was intriguing and kept me page turning. I thought it was interesting that the chapter headings were little spoilers and somehow it really worked and didn't ruin the story. It added to the suspense. Next up is, "A Girl of the Limberlost."Finally;)
Profile Image for Amy.
2,628 reviews415 followers
January 12, 2019
So much melodrama!
The story follows a redheaded, one-armed orphan boy who gets hired by a noble lumber baron to make sure no one steals his trees before he chops them down. Orphan boy is noble and good, falls in love with an equally noble girl, and nobly guards the trees through hell or high water.
The book was written in 1904 and the date obviously shines through. I've been trying to place the genre. It isn't women's fiction...the noble, male hero is clearly intended to inspire male readers. It somewhat reminds me of old fashion romances like Ivanhoe or Captain Blood but at the same time, feels too tame for that. Maybe Little Lord Fauntleroy feels like the best example, though clearly a lot changed in the 18 years separating the two books.
I understand why many enjoy this work, especially for those who grew up with it. I found many elements of it satisfying, particularly the author's clear passion for nature and the delightful writing style.
But I really, really disliked the heroine of the piece: Angel. She's a strong character, but also too good and perfect and noble. In her defense, she doesn't necessarily present herself this way (and a less loving narrator would easily call her spoiled), but Freckles - the titular hero - adores her. Like, kisses-her-footprints-in-the-mud adores her. He thinks her vastly above him and yet dwells on her perfections constantly.
For all the reader knows, this is the first female he has ever met, so I found his insta-adoration (can you even call it insta-love?) rather unlikely and boring. But what I most found distressing about their romance is that throughout, the distinction is clearly made that Freckles is a Man and Angel is still a Girl. An impetuous, playful Girl. I never felt like her transition to "Woman" made sense. (If she even had a transition.)
Generally, a 4 star read up until the last third, which ended up being so dramatic and unlikely I had to force myself to finish.

As a side note, I tried imagining reading this book to my nephew some day and it just made me laugh to think about. Even if he turns into the redheaded poet we all imagine he might, I wouldn't put him through this!

Profile Image for Lesle.
197 reviews67 followers
October 18, 2020
A story of the beauty of Nature and its gigantic Trees.
He only knows himself as Freckles, whose character is full of honor and loyalty.
Freckles hardships impresses a lumber Boss who likes his gumption and hires him to guard a valuable stand of trees in the swamp land of Indiana. He is given instructions and he sets to do the job. His fears and the dangerous conditions almost takes its toll on him.
After a year he is much stronger and has become to know the swamp trees and animals well.
Thieves come to steal the trees that he was hired to protect and a fight insues. He is kidnapped but eventually escapes. Swamp Angel enters his life and continues the story.

The storyline keeps one reading. You can tell there is pride in nature. The description of the scenic beauty in the setting of the story is very well done and connects just as well and enriches the story of Freckles.

Gene Stratton-Porter was a naturalist, a storyteller and loved her country.
“A mind that is conscious of its integrity scorns to say more than it means to perform.”
Profile Image for Els.
285 reviews2 followers
September 3, 2018
Needed some sweet fluff to get me through my homework. Proceeded to re-read the book in one sitting, didn't get everything done I needed to, woke up this morning and got ready like it was Tuesday and had a full day of chaos ahead.

So, yeah, thanks, Freckles, for altering my sense of time and reality.
Profile Image for Diana Maria.
187 reviews68 followers
March 26, 2019
There is a very good reason why Carole Joy Seid said this is among some of her very favourite books. I was a bit skeptical but boy! was I a fool to ever think this story will not win my heart completely and make me listen to Loch Lomond until I've had it fastened securely in my head from dusk till dawn for days. Such a tender story of such wonderful, lovable characters. I've often found myself on the edge of my seat, hoping that nothing bad will happen to Freckles, hoping for dear life he will find blessings on every step. And the Angel!!! - She has to be my favourite female character. So strong, so unlike anything you've ever expected from a girl like her. There is humour, wit, tenderness, wholesome beauty in almost every word spread over every sentence, with nature and love clothing the story.
Profile Image for Debbie.
859 reviews13 followers
September 19, 2020
Freckles was Gene Stratton-Porter’s first novel that took place in the Limberlost Swamp. My favorite portions of the book are the descriptions of the birds, animals, flowers and plants within the swamp. The tone of this book was so syrupy-sweet that it was a little hard to take at times. Freckles was so pure of heart, faithful and hardworking and his Swamp Angel was so sweet and kind. I think a part of that was because of when the book was written (1904). And the way everything worked out so perfectly and quickly at the end of the book was a little hard to believe. It’s obvious that Gene Stratton-Porter loves this swamp and it strikes me as odd that she would write a story about a lumber company cutting down the trees in the swamp. And the lumber crew was not the bad guys! I liked A Girl of the Limberlost much better – it reminded me a great deal of Where the Crawdads Sing.
Profile Image for Teri-K.
2,108 reviews47 followers
March 29, 2016
Who could not love poor Freckles, abandoned as a baby with his right hand cut off, without a name or family? When he looks for work and bravely holds out his right arm with the missing hand... Well, cynics need not read this author's books, or those who are bored by description or dislike old-fashioned stories. But when you want to read an old-fashioned book that truly makes you feel good, try one of S-P's.
Profile Image for Caragh.
Author 25 books2,206 followers
July 21, 2015
I found a 1916 hardcover of this imperfect favorite in an antique shop this weekend, stepped back in time, and reread.
Profile Image for Monnie.
1,434 reviews770 followers
April 19, 2014
Author, nature photographer and conservationist Gene Stratton-Porter was a favorite author of my late mother, also an Indiana native, who grew up perhaps an hour from what is now the Limberlost State Historic Site in Geneva. Stratton-Porter and her husband, Charles Porter, built a rustic 14-room log cabin home now far from the roughly 13,000-acre Limberlost Swamp in the early 1900s - and it was here that she wrote and five of her seven nature books and six of her 12 novels, including this one, Freckles and the one with which I'm more familiar, the follow-up A Girl of the Limberlost. I well remember my mother talking about that book, and the author - I'm pretty sure she even read it to me at one time.

So when I was offered an opportunity to get Freckles free at Amazon (through FreebookSifter.com), the memories came flooding back and I immediately downloaded it. Written in 1904 - well before my time and my mother's - I expected it to be a bit stilted in language and with, because of Stratton-Porter's conservationist leanings, a bit of Rachel Carson thrown in.

That it was, and more; it certainly is reflective of a time when the "upper-crust" ruled and anyone without a well-documented family pedigree virtually was a non-person. That theme, almost above all else, came through loud and clear in this book, which follows the adventures of Freckles, a young man who was orphaned as an infant (missing a hand that had been cut off). Now grown, he's earned the favor of a man who owns a lumber company and is charged with protecting the valuable trees in the Limberlost - a stretch of swamp now owned by the company. Soon, a beautiful young woman enters - dubbed the "Angel" because of her love and acceptance of every living thing regardless of "station" in life. The story then follows their adventures in trying to protect the trees, the swamp and all the creatures living within it as well as development of Angel's relationship with Freckles, who sees himself as (in modern-day terms) a total loser because he's missing both a hand and the aforesaid pedigree.

The dialogue is, in fact, a bit difficult, especially given the language of the day and Freckles' rather thick Irish brogue. Presumably, Stratton-Porter borrowed the latter from her Irish husband, but we have no idea where Freckles picked it up, since he was deposited in an orphanage in the Midwestern United States as a baby and had no interaction with anyone Irish until he was grown up (a mystery that bothers me and not a few other reviewers).

As I read along, I also kept waiting for something truly awful to happen (a box of tissues was at my elbow throughout). But this really isn't a tear-jerker; in fact, I was more inclined, given the times in which I live, to want to smack the characters upside the head than feel sorry about their belief that circumstances dictated their destinies. But that was then, and this is now - something readers must keep in mind throughout. If you view the book as a love story between two young people and an environment they both love, it's well written and poignant.
Profile Image for Tricia Culp.
524 reviews5 followers
October 16, 2018
This is a precious little book. Fits in the category I call Old-fashioned YA 😁 The nature writing is beautiful, the story is sweet, and it made me smile. It is a bit slow in parts, and the values are a little old-fashioned, even for me- but it would be a wonderful read for anyone who loves LM Montgomery or teens/tweens who like Louisa May Alcott. I will probably pick up the next book the next time I want something slow, nurturing, heartwarming and easy.
Profile Image for Cherie.
1,298 reviews111 followers
January 21, 2012
I loved this book! I cannot say how many times I read it as a young girl. I wore out the cover. I loved Freckles and the Bird Lady. It was such a great story. It had everything,humor,suspense,loyalty,and beauty.
Profile Image for Bookworm.
343 reviews52 followers
March 8, 2015
I was first introduced to Gene's books by my Mom, who found a copy of Laddie for me, which started me digging for more of her books! Freckles is such a wonderful book, and I'm pleased to own my own copy now.
Profile Image for Mazzou B.
609 reviews15 followers
February 10, 2020
I love the author's works. This one didn't have the ease of reading that her other books did however. Still, it had an excellent plot and captured all the love of nature and wildlife, just like the author's other books.
Profile Image for Sara.
564 reviews177 followers
August 7, 2018
First reading: January 2014

Each successive reading gets better. The ending is terrible, however.
Profile Image for Michelle.
148 reviews2 followers
February 5, 2017
An excellent old fashioned story. Sweet love, excitement and a little bit of tear-shedding make this worth reading.
186 reviews25 followers
June 12, 2020
I so enjoy her love of nature. Such beautiful descriptions!
Displaying 1 - 30 of 820 reviews

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