Louisa May Alcott and the books she wrote
Here are two vintage covers for the book Eight Cousins by Lousia May Alcott, and below is the cover of the same book that our local library had. This was the first book I read of hers, besides being familiar with Little Women, the book and movie. They kept addressing each other with “cousin” and “uncle” instead of their names which seemed odd, but oh well, maybe some families really talked like that. I guess it was accepted in society to have 1st cousins marry back then- how strange that seems to us now!
I liked the book because of Rose who is the star of the book who has such a good influence on her eight cousins. Her uncle is such a good man, a doctor who has just come back from the West Indies or somewhere like that and wants to to right and be as good as he can to Rose for his brother’s sake (his brother was Rose’s dad). The uncle was portrayed as maybe a little too sentimental about his niece (just my opinion).
I think the model for the character of the uncle was Louise May Alcott’s own father since I read he was a teacher at heart and had a lot to say about raising children although in some things he was far fetched- making his young children be vegetarians! Bet they didn’t get enough B vitamins.
Four years later in 1879 Alcott writes Under the Lilacs which was my 2nd book of hers to read. I like these books of family situations that end up all the better when the book ends. They all have good endings and that makes a happy story when everything turns out for the characters.
Here’s her photo to the left. I’ve been reading Life, letters, and journals, Louisa May Alcott and it’s a real eye opener to how she grew up… most of her books include all her life experiences. Speckled throughout the book are specific books or characters that are of a real person that she knew.
In the 1830’s her Dad was a commune vegetarian sort of guy (from what I gather). They lived in the country and had a garden and apple orchard which Louisa nicknamed “Apple Slump” in her adult years. They were poor because he just couldn’t make money- how discouraging! He called himself a philosopher and gave lectures in the circuit of the Transcendentalist group. I don’t know what his beliefs were, but it seems he should have been a college professor of some sort to earn a living.
He didn’t financially support his family like he should have. Louisa did through her writings and all her life brought in the needed funds to sustain them. “Them” included her parents, sisters and nieces and nephews. She held the family together and what a big responsibility it was for her.
In the book Louisa comments in her journal on what they had for dinner one night while growing up- bread and fruit. (Father made them be Vegetarians). I wonder if he indulged in a good roast beef sandwich when he lectured and traveled as he was away from home a lot.
Yet there are always little things about life that make the bad parts seem not so bad and this was something that cheered her up when she was about 14 yrs. old :
March 1846- “I’ve got the little room I have wanted so long, and am very happy about it. …The door that opens into the garden will be very pretty in summer, and I can run off to the woods when I like.”
She was given mercury for typhoid fever when she worked in a hospital during the Civil War. I read online about her having lupus possibly. How strange that she died 2 days after her father. I think the burden of having to earn money for her family all her life was very hard on her. What an interesting individual to read about she is.