12.02.2014

Author Focus: Louisa May Alcott

Since I'm talking about Little Women this week, and the literary genius who wrote it, I thought I'd do a post focusing on Louisa May Alcott.  And since I wasn't feeling creative, this is all I could come up with for a title.  I'll share a brief summary of the author's life, some of the books she wrote (that I've read) with a short explanation/review, and a few quotes.
Bio

Louisa May Alcott was born in Pennsylvania on November 29, 1832.  She and her three sisters were taught at home by their parents – philosopher Bronson Alcott and practical-Christianity mother.  Louisa's interest in writing began young.  She had a rampant imagination and she and her sisters often acted out stories she wrote as little melodramas for their friends.  At age 15, frustrated with her family's poverty, she decided that no matter what it was, she would find a way to help her family and in her words, "be rich and famous and happy before I die."  In the following years, she picked up a variety of jobs including seamstress, governess, teacher, and household servant.  She got her start in writing by doing some work for magazines and publishing short stories.  One of her literary milestones was her book describing her nursing experiences during the Civil War.  When she was 35, her publisher asked her to write a book for girls.  Little Women was born.  This classic gave Louisa financial independence and a demand for more books.  Over the last years of her life, she wrote many more books and short stories including: Little Men, Eight Cousins, Rose in Bloom, An Old-Fashioned Girl, and many others.  She died on March 6, 1888, two days after her father.

Books

Little Women – I already reviewed this book earlier in the week, but I'll just say that it's awesome and my favorite of all her books and my favorite fiction book ever.  I love the characters and the story, everything is just perfect.  It was the first of her books to make her famous and launched her into a prolific writing career.  My rating: 5 1/2 out of 5 stars (favorite!)

Eight Cousins – I love this book so much.  If I had to describe the book in one word, it'd be heartwarming.  It's about Rose, a girl who is orphaned and comes to live with her aunts at the "Aunt-hill" house.  She has quite a few of them, and they are all determined to make her into a proper young lady, elegant and mannerly.  And Rose is very willing to let them – she has become a shadow since her parents died.  When her uncle Alex shows up to the Aunt-hill, though, he quickly turns the aunts' plans and Rose's normal life upside down.  Prescribing a lifestyle of exercise, wholesome food, hands-on learning and rambunctious activity that terrifies the dainty Rose, her uncle quickly transforms the pale flower into a hale, hearty young woman who runs around without a corset, very much for the better.  The young Rose also meets her seven boy cousins and comes to know and love them with all the sisterly affection her heart has to offer.  The book covers the years of her childhood and her ascent into adulthood with a healthy dose of cousinly comradeship and fun in a big family.  I've reread Eight Cousins many times and it's fun and heartwarming without fail.  My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Rose in Bloom – This is the sequel to and closure of the story began in Eight Cousins.  Rose grows up and has her choice of many eager suitors, several of her cousins included.  Rose in Bloom centers much more around her love interests and her decisions than her interactions with her cousins, and those are no longer so innocent and playful as in Eight Cousins.  Rose continues to learn of and exert the feminine influence she has over her cousins for their good, often nudging them back onto the right path.  I didn't love this book quite as much as Eight Cousins, simply because of the much more mature look at the cousins as they grow older.  I prefer to read about the earlier years of their friendship, when they have fun and nothing is very complicated.  But this is probably for fairly sentimental reasons because I wish it could have stayed that way with my own cousins.  :)  I do really like this book, though, the little romance bits are well-done and enjoyable and the ending is pretty perfect.  My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

An Old-Fashioned Girl – When I was younger, I fell in love with this book because it was about an old-fashioned girl from the country who comes to live with her cousin in the city.  She stays with them for many years, but she never truly loses her old-fashioned, quaint Christian ways taught by her parents.  Her conservative principles and dose of pure, healthy femininity are a breath of fresh air to everyone she meets, and her aunt and uncle's home is greatly improved by her presence.  Just a really sweet book that made a big impression on me when I was younger.  My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

These are a few of my favorites from Alcott's works.  I would highly recommend all of these for young girls and Alcott aficionados.  For the last part of this post, I will share a few of my favorite quotes from Louisa and her books.

Quotes

"I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship."
– Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

"The power of finding beauty in the humblest things makes home happy and life lovely."
– Louisa May Alcott

"Keep good company, read good books, love good things and cultivate soul and body as faithfully as you can."
– Louisa May Alcott, Rose in Bloom

"A real gentleman is as polite to a little girl as to a woman."
– Louisa May Alcott, An Old-Fashioned Girl

"Some books are so familiar that reading them is like being home again."
 – Louisa May Alcott

And that wraps up this post!  I hope you enjoyed learning about one of my favorite authors, Louisa May Alcott.  If you are a fan of Little Women, be sure to check out some of her other books – you're sure to enjoy them.  Thanks for reading!  xo, Ella

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