Originally published under the title Proverb Stories, this collection includes: Kitty's Class Day; Aunt Kipp; Psyche's Art; A Country Christmas; On Picket Duty; The Baron's Gloves; My Red Cap; What the Bells Saw and Said.
Paperback, 268 pages
October 15th 2005
by 1st World Library
(first published 1882)
“Kitty’s Class Day” as a title sounds like a story about a young child going to school, but it is in fact about a 17-year-old obsessed with looking her best, making use of what materials she’s got to look fashionable and make men’s heads turn with admiration and women look with envy.
This light-hearted and amusing tale is my favourite of this collection.
“Aunt Kipp” is the name of a 70-something rich woman who is something of a Scrooge. She does little to help her niece, grandniece, or gr“Kitty’s Class Day” as a title sounds like a story about a young child going to school, but it is in fact about a 17-year-old obsessed with looking her best, making use of what materials she’s got to look fashionable and make men’s heads turn with admiration and women look with envy.
This light-hearted and amusing tale is my favourite of this collection.
“Aunt Kipp” is the name of a 70-something rich woman who is something of a Scrooge. She does little to help her niece, grandniece, or grandnephew, but succeeds in annoying and upsetting them. Only 11-year-old Toady has any impact on her hard old heart but he tends to rub her up the wrong way quite often, as he tends to tell the truth without ever considering tact.
I found this to be an upbeat, amusing tale.
“Psyche’s Art” is about a female sculptor who wants to be the best she can in her art. After a chat with a man much more talented than she, Psyche (strange name for a lady!) comes to see that caring for others is the best way to ‘feed her soul’ and ultimately excel with her passion.
A sombre moralistic tale, this one, and one of Ms Alcott’s least appealing for me, so only 2 stars.
I read “A Country Christmas” separately in December 2013, which is the best time for a simple, sweet, satisfying, seasonal short story such as this.
“On Picket Duty” is a short story comprised of four even shorter stories, one each told by the four characters who are, as the title suggests, on picket duty.
Better than the previous tale, but still not to my tastes, so 2 stars again.
“The Baron’s Gloves” is more to my liking than the previous two stories; however, Ms Alcott practically disowns this one in the preface. She states:
“I have added "The Baron's Gloves," as a sample of the romantic rubbish which paid so well once upon a time. If it shows what not to write it will not have been rescued from oblivion in vain.”
I disagree, as I enjoyed the light-hearted tone and upbeat mood of this tale.
Two young women – Helen and Amy – accompany their uncle during a trip through Germany. The women long for some adventure to add spice to the routine feel of the travels.
Sure enough, their hopes are realised, and this long short story – perhaps it qualifies as a novelette – is comprised of several individual incidents that are linked together.
3 stars, despite the author suggesting it isn’t even worthy of 1 star!
“My Red Cap” is about a nurse who meets a newly recruited soldier by chance before he departs on his new life.
Throughout the tale the pair meet again over time, the third occasion being after a 20-year gap, and upon every meeting the soldier is in a worse state than before. However much he suffers he manages to grin and bear it.
The nurse feels affection for him but this is not a tale of love but rather of platonic friendship.
Found this quite mundane and skipped a few paragraphs. Not Louisa at her best, in my opinion.
“What the Bells Saw and Said” is about a group of spirits who “dwell” in the bells. Set on Christmas Eve, the spirits discuss the year on the whole, mixing tales of happiness and woe. The amount of woe resulted in me skipping half of this.
As A. M. Barnard: Behind a Mask, or a Woman's Power (1866) The Abbot's Ghost, or Maurice Treherne's Temptation (1867) A Long Fatal Love Chase (1866 – first published 1995) First published anonymously: A Modern Mephistopheles (1877)
Louisa May Alcott was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania on November 29, 1832. She and her three sisters, Anna, Elizabeth and May were educated by their father, philosopher/ tAs A. M. Barnard: Behind a Mask, or a Woman's Power (1866) The Abbot's Ghost, or Maurice Treherne's Temptation (1867) A Long Fatal Love Chase (1866 – first published 1995) First published anonymously: A Modern Mephistopheles (1877)
Louisa May Alcott was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania on November 29, 1832. She and her three sisters, Anna, Elizabeth and May were educated by their father, philosopher/ teacher, Bronson Alcott and raised on the practical Christianity of their mother, Abigail May.
Louisa spent her childhood in Boston and in Concord, Massachusetts, where her days were enlightened by visits to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s library, excursions into nature with Henry David Thoreau and theatricals in the barn at Hillside (now Hawthorne’s "Wayside").
Like her character, Jo March in Little Women, young Louisa was a tomboy: "No boy could be my friend till I had beaten him in a race," she claimed, " and no girl if she refused to climb trees, leap fences...."
For Louisa, writing was an early passion. She had a rich imagination and often her stories became melodramas that she and her sisters would act out for friends. Louisa preferred to play the "lurid" parts in these plays, "the villains, ghosts, bandits, and disdainful queens."
At age 15, troubled by the poverty that plagued her family, she vowed: "I will do something by and by. Don’t care what, teach, sew, act, write, anything to help the family; and I’ll be rich and famous and happy before I die, see if I won’t!"
Confronting a society that offered little opportunity to women seeking employment, Louisa determined "...I will make a battering-ram of my head and make my way through this rough and tumble world." Whether as a teacher, seamstress, governess, or household servant, for many years Louisa did any work she could find.
Louisa’s career as an author began with poetry and short stories that appeared in popular magazines. In 1854, when she was 22, her first book Flower Fables was published. A milestone along her literary path was Hospital Sketches (1863) based on the letters she had written home from her post as a nurse in Washington, DC as a nurse during the Civil War.
When Louisa was 35 years old, her publisher Thomas Niles in Boston asked her to write "a book for girls." Little Women was written at Orchard House from May to July 1868. The novel is based on Louisa and her sisters’ coming of age and is set in Civil War New England. Jo March was the first American juvenile heroine to act from her own individuality; a living, breathing person rather than the idealized stereotype then prevalent in children’s fiction.
In all, Louisa published over 30 books and collections of stories. She died on March 6, 1888, only two days after her father, and is buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord....more