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Books I read, music I hear...My imperious opinion on both.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Eight Cousins - Louisa May Alcott

The book Eight Cousins begins with an orphaned girl of "no constitution" tearfully contemplating her future among her many aunts. And as the title suggests, she also finds that there are many cousins as well. All boys, creatures with which she'd no positive experience.

It didn't really strike me until I finished it but this is a very moral story. Rose, the main figure of the narrative, is improved in health and character by the influence and care of her well-traveled Uncle Alec. She in turn becomes something of a benefactor to Phebe the maid and an example of good character to her seven "cousinly relations."

I actually don't object to "moral stories." It is just that when written in a certain fashion they become so very condescending to both the reader and characters within the book. In a way you might call the works of Charles Dickens "moral stories" because the honorable folk are always brought to happiness and fulfillment while such misers and villains as Mr. Ralph Nickleby and Mr. Quilp either hang themselves or fall into the river at night. Laddie, by G.S. Porter elevates good character and values but with humour and mischief that I find much more endearing than the formal narration which L.M. Alcott uses in this book.

Interestingly enough Louisa May Alcott also wrote some quite different type books under the name A.M. Barnard. Here's an excerpt from

...A lesser-known part of her work are the passionate, fiery novels and stories she wrote, usually under the pseudonym A. M. Barnard. These works, such as A Long Fatal Love Chase and Pauline's Passion and Punishment, are of the type referred to in Little Women as "dangerous for little minds" and were called "potboilers" or "blood-and-thunder tales" by Victorians. Their protagonists are willful and relentless in their pursuit of their own aims, which often include revenge on those who have humiliated or thwarted them. These well-written works with an uncommon point of view achieved immediate commercial success and are highly readable today.She also produced moralistic and wholesome stories for children..

Hopefully I don't betray excessive repulsion...I like reading so well that it is rather hard to label a book "bad" or "boring" so I label this one as such: "below average."

You can form your own opinions with a look here:

Eight Cousins Online

About L.M. Alcott


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