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review 2018-06-28 04:06
Be good to each-other and Work
An Old-Fashioned Girl - Louisa May Alcott

Pretty much an edifying book packaged into a collection of stories of a wholesome country-girl visiting her city-girl friend. Second part, written later, continues the theme with the girls grown up, and the work-is-good general idea tackles also romance, flirtation, marriage and women's independence.

 

Whether it'll be received as a charming lesson or an eye-rolling inducing morality tale would be up to the reader, I guess. I wavered in times, but I have to admit I like Alcott too much to begrudge her some opinionated pushing.

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text 2018-06-26 06:36
Reading progress update: I've read 260 out of 360 pages.
An Old-Fashioned Girl - Louisa May Alcott

"I don't know whether it is meant for a saint or a muse, a goddess or a fate; but to me it is only a beautiful woman, bigger, lovelier, and more imposing than any woman I ever saw," answered Fanny, slowly, trying to express the impression the statue made upon her.

(...)

We could n't decide what to put in the hands as the most appropriate symbol. What do you say?"

"Give her a sceptre: she would make a fine queen," answered Fanny.

"No, we have had enough of that; women have been called queens a long time, but the kingdom given them is n't worth ruling," answered Rebecca.

"I don't think it is nowadays," said Fanny, with a tired sort of sigh.

"Put a man's hand in hers to help her along, then," said Polly, whose happy fortune it had been to find friends and helpers in father and brothers.

"No; my woman is to stand alone, and help herself," said Rebecca, decidedly.

"She 's to be strong-minded, is she?" and Fanny's lip curled a little as she uttered the misused words.

"Yes, strong-minded, strong-hearted, strong-souled, and strong-bodied; that is why I made her larger than the miserable, pinched-up woman of our day. Strength and beauty must go together. Don't you think these broad shoulders can bear burdens without breaking down, these hands work well, these eyes see clearly, and these lips do something besides simper and gossip?"

Fanny was silent; but a voice from Bess's corner said, "Put a child in her arms, Becky."

"Not that even, for she is to be something more than a nurse."

"Give her a ballot-box," cried a new voice, and turning round, they saw an odd-looking woman perched on a sofa behind them.

"Thank you for the suggestion, Kate. I 'll put that with the other symbols at her feet; for I 'm going to have needle, pen, palette, and broom somewhere, to suggest the various talents she owns, and the ballot-box will show that she has earned the right to use them.

 

Ahhh, Alcott! Sometimes, I get to these bits, and I remember encountering her writing as a child, and feeling such a wonder at these peaks into proto-feminism. There are ways to go here, but she was steering well.

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text 2018-06-23 13:01
Reading progress update: I've read 240 out of 360 pages.
An Old-Fashioned Girl - Louisa May Alcott

"Then, my dear, can't you bear a little ridicule for the sake of a good cause? You said yesterday that you were going to make it a principle of your life, to help up your sex as far and as fast as you could. It did my heart good to hear you say it, for I was sure that in time you would keep your word. But, Polly, a principle that can't bear being laughed at, frowned on, and cold-shouldered, isn't worthy of the name."

"I want to be strong-minded in the real sense of the word, but I don't like to be called so by people who don't understand my meaning; and I shall be if I try to make the girls think soberly about anything sensible or philanthropic. They call me old-fashioned now, and I 'd rather be thought that, though it isn't pleasant, than be set down as a rampant woman's rights reformer," said Polly, in whose memory many laughs, and snubs, and sarcasms still lingered, forgiven but not forgotten.

"This love and thought and care for those weaker, poorer, or worse than ourselves, which we call Christian charity, is a very old fashion, my dear. It began eighteen hundred years ago, and only those who honestly follow the beautiful example set us then, learn how to get genuine happiness out of life. I 'm not a 'rampant woman's rights reformer,'" added Miss Mills, with a smile at Polly's sober face; "but I think that women can do a great deal for each other, if they will only stop fearing what 'people will think,' and take a hearty interest in whatever is going to fit their sisters and themselves to deserve and enjoy the rights God gave them.

 

There is this good natured, sensible tone to this chapter, where the proto-feminism clashes with the marching of time and the result is some "fair for it's time" result...

 

Oh, and in the plot I see maybe an early version of what turned out to be May Flowers.

 

And we always come back to work being good for the soul.

 

 

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review 2018-06-02 19:02
Little Women (DNF) ★☆☆☆☆
Little Women - Louisa May Alcott,C.M. Hebert

I’ve been enjoying the episodes of the Canonballz podcast covering classic books that I’m already familiar with so much that I decided to try reading a new one. I know how loved this book is, but had never read it or seen any of the TV/movie adaptations, so decided this might be a good place to start.

 

Or not. I’ve listened to a full hour of the story and cannot keep my mind on it. The characters are boring, their pious concern over being well-behaved and having nice attitudes is boring, and the style of writing is boring, even for middle grade fiction. Maybe the pace picks up later. Maybe the characters get more interesting. But I’ll never find out, because I just can’t face another 18 hours of listening to this.  

 

DNF at 5%. Audiobook, borrowed from my public library via Overdrive. C.M. Hebert does a fine job with the reading, but it was still a yawn-fest.

 

Previous Updates:

 

6/2/18 - 5%

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text 2018-06-02 17:51
Little Women - 4%
Little Women - Louisa May Alcott,C.M. Hebert

Reading this for a project, but not sure I'll finish. 40 minutes in, and the pious domesticity is super boring. 

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