Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Under the Lilacs” as Want to Read:
Under the Lilacs
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Under the Lilacs

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  2,587 ratings  ·  105 reviews
I've drove elephants and camels, ostriches and grizzly bears, and mules, and six yellow ponies all to oncet. May be I could manage cows if I tried hard, answered Ben" who runs away as circus boy. Bab and Betty find him and his dog in the carriage house. Their mother cleans him and sends him to work for the Squire. Hidden lessons about life, death and faith.
Hardcover, 191 pages
Published by Hard Press (first published 1878)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Under the Lilacs, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Under the Lilacs

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
I am shocked that I forgot about this little gem! Of all Louisa May Alcott's books this is the sweetest. I admit that I like Rose in Bloom more, but this one is every bit as good. Of all the characters the dog is the one I remember vividly, the others are just a hazy memory from a hot summer years ago. I cant remember the names of anyone but for some reason I had to give it five. Maybe because I still recall it with fondness? Whatever the case, it is one I should reread for sure!
I have decided this is one of my top 5 LMA books. The story is not preachy and the characters are real and down to earth. People are doing their best and it's just good enough. Ben has run away from his life as a circus boy because his father went away and his guardians mistreat him. Bab and Betty find him and his talented dog living in the carriage house. Their mother takes him in, cleans him up and gets him a job helping the Squire, but when Miss Celia reopens the big house, she finds she need ...more
I was a bit disappointed with this work. I had just finished Rose in Bloom and An Old-Fashioned Girl, so I suppose that I was expecting a more mature book. It is a sweet read, however, for young readers who wish to become familiar with classic authors.
The book follows two young sisters, Bab and Betty, and their adventures with their young friend Ben, a circus runaway, his trick-dog, Sancho, and Miss Celia and Thornton, a brother and sister duo who also add spice to their life. With a true ‘sto
I was a little worried that I would be comparing this to Little Women which is my favorite book of all time. Little Women it certainly was not. However, it is a lovely little story that has its own merits. Very similar to Little Women in that it could also be a collection of short stories (each chapter has a situation, a climax and is more or less resolved very shortly with the main plot loosely tying it all together) rather than a novel, it follows Betty, Bab & Ben on many little adventures ...more
When I was 10 or so Little Women was my favorite book in the world. And I reread it throughout the decades, and still love it. But it has been awhile. So, picking up Under the Lilacs, which I somehow missed in childhood, I anticipated the delight of another Alcott world immersion. And it is delightful. But reading this ( a runaway boy, a circus, a doggie, two delightful children, a nice and charming lady, gardens)...and thinking about the milieu in which Alcott wrote...I am struck by the levels ...more
Jane G Meyer
A very gentle tale, centered around an unconventional grouping of people that became family. Though idealistic in nature, the body of this book sweeps you back a hundred years to a different time and place. The story is warm, and inspirational, but it also had an unexpected effect of sadness for me. For those times of mud pies, of swimming at the pond, of playing with dolls under oaks and elms all day, is not a reality for my youngest--and I so long for that for him...

Karlyne Landrum
I don't really know why this was one of my favorite books as a child. Was it the circus boy and dog? Or just the pastoral beauty of all those lilacs? I'm not sure if the "moral" just went over my head or if, as small children do, I instinctively just liked the comments on good and evil, consequences and deeds. Whatever it was, I still find it a charming story.
This one can turn into a bit of a morality play at times, but it's still a very sweet little story. For some reason I remembered it as a story about two little girls living next to a mysterious house, when it's really more of a "little lost boy finds a home" story. I liked Alcott's "Little Men" a lot more, but this was an excellent children's book.
Another lovely morality tale by Louisa May Alcott. She clearly was fascinated by the moral, physical, and emotional lives and upbringing of boys and girls as they make the transition from youth to young adulthood. Sweet!
For recreational fiction, I love the imagination and charm of Louisa May Alcott's children's books. This one is a precious story starring two little girls and a boy in need who becomes part of the family for a while.
As I read this book, I consistently wished I had found it when I was much younger and could have appreciated it for what it is. It's obviously directed to a young audience and really doesn't treat characters or themes from a realistic, adult perspective at all. It feels like Alcott created it as a moral tale to teach children important lessons about acceptance, charity, courage, etc., but it is overly transparent and too moralizing for my taste. Furthermore, everything came to a pretty little co ...more
Most young boys dream of running away to join a circus but young Ben Brown and his clever poodle, Sancho, have run away from the circus. Ben’s father had left the circus to look for a better job, intending to send for his son once he was settled. Once his father's protection had gone, Ben was beaten by the circus master and so runs away. Babs and Betty Moss are in the garden of Miss Celia’s big house holding a dolls' tea party in the shade of the lilac trees. They catch Sancho red-handed stealin ...more
Alcott has a great affection for boys which is once again displayed in this book. She really "gets" them. I enjoy how she allows her boy characters to be boys and yet guides and directs them to use their energies to improve and the women in their lives are not present to berate or nag, but to guide and direct with love and affection. Although a great deal has changed since Ms. Alcott wrote, the virtues and values she embodies in her characters transcend the time and setting and continue to be ap ...more
This book is intended for children; it features two sisters called Bab and Betty, who are 10 and 9 respectively, and a boy called Ben who is 12 and who has run away from a circus, looking for his father.

It's old-fashioned, of course, and based in America, but the language is simple enough that I would expect many girls of around 8 or 9 to enjoy it, and perhaps some boys too since Ben is actually the hero of the book. There are a few places where the author makes comments, as tended to happen in
Being a fan of Alcott I was thrilled to find another of her titles. At first I thought this was going to be a story about two of the characters in the book, Bab and Betty. Two little girls, but it is actually about Ben, a boy who runs away from the circus and the scrapes he finds himself getting into (as do other characters). You can't help but love his mischievousness and Bab's pluckiness.

It is a charming story. A bit slow in some places but sometimes, I'm in the mood for quiet and slow. Espec
"Under the Lilacs is the story of a young boy, escaped from the circus and in search of his father. He comes upon friends in an unlikely spot and, once he gets a job to save money to continue his search, faces the temptation of “settling” in one place, investing in the relationships of those around him, and choosing the safety of a home over the excitement of life on the road. He makes the right choice (because there is a right and wrong, in Alcott’s stories) and is rewarded in the end in an uni ...more
Gretchen E K
The only LM Alcott book I wasn't crazy about.
Scott Williams
Sep 16, 2014 Pam added it
Liked this very much

The first 2 pages of this book and the descriptive doll birthday celebration completely stole my heart! It was so well crafted and was, by far, my most fav. part of the tale of these 3 children (Bab, Betty, Ben).

It was unfortunate that the entire story didn't have that same creative flair. It did drag in parts for me. However, this was my Grandma Cory's all-time favorite book, and for that reason alone, I'm glad that I read this (even if it did take me a month {ugh}).
It w
Vonze (Yvonne)
Under the Lilacs is a cute story by Louisa May Alcott, involving a circus runaway, his dog, and the family who takes him in.

For me, it started slowly, but picked up around the middle when the dog goes missing. I was slightly disappointed that it lacked the flair for dramatics that I like in Alcott's other work. It's just a straight-forward, cute, old-fashion children's story that's at home on the shelf with stories like Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.

Not Alcott's best in my opinion, but nice, and wo
May 06, 2010 Kristina is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
So far, Ben got a job as a cattle handler. He also is beginning to read books, especially history books. He now wants to go to school. He meets a women who's horse has a rock in it's hoof and he helps her remove the rock. The women thanks Ben and she said when she returns to town she will bring him a book as payment. I think Ben will finally have a chance to go to school with his two friends. I really liked it when Ben is describing his work with the cattle and how rewarding the job is to him.

Frances Sawaya
LAM has always been a worthwhile read if only for views at life in America in a time, supposedly, more innocent. A simple tale; good outcomes and happy endings are to be had. If you are looking, however, for a book about running from a circus, then I urge you to try the second book of the Deptford trilogy, i.e., "World of Wonders."
I've enjoyed almost all of Alcott's books, as I did this one, but I don't think it is up to her normal high standard. The story was sweet but felt somewhat contrived to me and the ending was hastily put together and left wanting more. I have high regard for Alcott's stories and her body of work is outstanding, but not everything can be at the level of Little Women.
It's been years since I read it - I read voraciously as a child, and I remember that this was a favorite of mine, though I don't remember anything about it. My memory says that it was the first Louisa May Alcott book that I read... I could be wrong on that, but I really do think it was. I'd like to read it again if I can find a copy.
Tara Lynn
I've been sick lately, and re-reading "comfort" books to make me feel better. When I was smaller, my mother always put a selection of "comfort books" in front of me, left me with a pot of tea and Mary Poppins playing in the background. Yup, I know I'm a dork, but tradition is tradition. I'll probably do it with my own children some day.
Kori Johnson
Under the Lilacs is a story about an orphan boy who is found under the lilacs. He is taken in by a rich young lady who needs a companion for her brother.
Charity U
It's a book aimed at kids, definitely. Just a sweet story about two little girls and one older boy, a dog, some other kids, and the varied adventures that they go through. Louisa May Alcott is an excellent writer. Yeah, the word that really sums this book up is "sweet." :) I recommend that you read it!
It was cute but a little too odd for me. The boy runs away from a mean circus master and gets a place to stay with the family that caretakes a lady's estate. It tells of all the adventures and things the kids have together. (It is like a very, very different version of the Secret Garden)
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Clover (Carr Family, #4)
  • Mother
  • Carney's House Party (Deep Valley, #1)
  • Heidi's Children
  • Marcia Schuyler (Miranda Trilogy #1)
  • When Patty Went to College
  • A Tangled Web
  • Winning His Spurs: A Tale of the Crusades
  • Pollyanna Grows Up (Pollyanna #2)
  • The School at the Chalet (The Chalet School, #1)
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/ t
More about Louisa May Alcott...
Little Women (Little Women, #1) Little Men (Little Women #2) Eight Cousins Jo's Boys (Little Women, #3) Rose in Bloom (Eight Cousins #2)

Share This Book

“George is regularly jolly; though now he's a minister,” 0 likes
More quotes…