The name ‘Louisa May Alcott’ conjures up memories for many of us. From childhood classics, to a favorite film, to afternoons spent reading about girls who thought more of others than of themselves. That last bit always hit hardest. The girls of Little Women were so GOOD! Whenever I read Little Women I eventually put it down just a little bit unsatisfied with my own character and behavior. I wasn’t as considerate or brave or as accomplished as a March sister – what was wrong with me?
In that respect, Alcott accomplished her goal. She set out to write interesting and character-improving fiction. As a child, I was convinced and convicted. However, as an adult reading back through Alcott’s books, I’ve found different favorites and identified more with other characters. Rose of Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom is just such a one.
I know Alcott went to great pains to make everyone in her stories human and to give them normal foibles, but Rose always seemed more real. Now that I analyze it, I’m sure it’s because her stories are set with seven male cousins. Part of the ‘goodness’ of the Little Women, I was always sure, was due to the fact that they didn’t have BROTHERS. I had three, all younger. You can see that that makes all the difference. I’ll just make a sweeping statement: no matter how rambunctious, difficult and ridiculous a little sister can be, they’ve got nothing on a little brother. So Rose was legit, ‘cause she had SEVEN. I mean, they were cousins, but still. It counts.
Another thing that I love about the two stories (a single plot, though) is that they show that people can change, and in fact that they do change, from children to adults. This might just be my conscience taking a bite out of me, but I KNOW I was a smart aleck as a child. I also know that I’ve toned it down and learned some humility since then. It might be wisdom or it might be something else, but I liked that you saw all of the kids in these two books grow up into different sorts of adults. Spoiled for choice with all of the possible outcomes of childrearing, as it were.
Rose Campbell, tired and ill, has come to live at "The Aunt Hill" after the death of her beloved father. Six aunts fussing and fretting over her are bad enough, but what is a quiet 13-year-old girl to do with seven boisterous boy cousins?
In the sequel to Eight Cousins, Rose Campbell returns to the "Aunt Hill" after two years of travelling around the world. Suddenly, she is surrounded by male admirers, all expecting her to marry them. But before she marries, Rose is determined to establish herself as an independent woman.
These aren’t difficult books or long books – they’re just home comfort food, in book form. I re-read both a couple of weeks ago for free online, and remembered how much I loved Rose in Bloom and her Eight Cousins.