So I just finished Freckles, by Gene Stratton Porter. Of the three of her books that I've read, it is the one she published first. Freckles was quite the bestseller of its time (1904). Personally, I liked A Girl of the Limberlost better.
Freckles is about an orphaned young man who doesn't know his name or his heritage, but goes by Freckles. By his hard work, honesty and sense of duty he builds himself up from penniless orphan to respected businessman. And, of course, he finds his true love along the way. :)
Such drama! Porter really knows how to pack it in. I was telling Jacob after finishing Freckles that "according to Gene Stratton Porter, if you don't end up in the hospital over it, it's not true love." heh. It's fun to see the cultural differences in these books that were written more than a hundred years ago. Heart-sickness was apparently more prevalent. Now, Porter hasn't hospitalized anyone strictly for missing their true love, they always have another excuse (old ailment, fractured ribs, etc.). But still.
The dialogue in the books is different, too. For one, characters are much more likely to monologue for a page or two than they ever would be in a modern novel (I'm guessing authors like Fitzgerald and Hemingway had some influence on this). For another, the characters come out with some fun turns of phrase -- some of which I've heard my grandmother use. And my grandmother is also more prone to monologues than I, so, hey, there you go.
Recommended, of course, though I'd probably start with A Girl of the Limberlost.
P.S. I despise the covers I see for this book, hence no cover image.
The Keeper of the Bees
A Girl of the Limberlost