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Under the Lilacs

3.72  ·  Rating Details ·  3,696 Ratings  ·  164 Reviews
This is the story of two runaways -- Ben Brown and his dog, Sancho -- who have escaped from a hard life in the circus to search for Ben's lost father. Tired and hungry, the pair are taken in by young Bab and Betty Moss and their mother, as well as by the Mosses' neighbors, Miss Celia and her brother, Thorny. Thanks to their kindness, Ben soon has a job, a family, and a cha ...more
Paperback, 262 pages
Published November 1st 1996 by Little, Brown and Company (first published January 1st 1878)
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Bab and Betty Moss were sisters and enjoyed a game like all children. Their latest game of a tea party for all their dollies under the lilacs was interrupted when the cake they were to serve disappeared. And while they searched, it reappeared once more. Bab and Betty were confused – there was obviously magic in the air.

When Mrs Moss and her girls discovered young Ben Brown and his dog Sancho in a nearby carriage house, the mystery of the cake came to light. But more was revealed when Ben told of
Dec 30, 2013 Tweety rated it it was amazing
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!
Jun 16, 2009 AngieA rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
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
Apr 30, 2015 Cindy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pre-1900
I really liked this book. Some of the reviews on Amazon were not good. They said it wasn't Little Women or you can tell it was one of her first books. I say lighten up, a book that starts with a tea party can't be bad. This book takes you back to a time when you were a kid and life was tea parties, play and not many worries. My favorite line "The lilacs nodded over the high wall as if they said, we could tell fine secrets if we chose. Mrs. Moss and Miss Celia are true mothers. They took in a you ...more
Laura Verret
Jul 11, 2009 Laura Verret rated it it was ok
Shelves: classic-fiction
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
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...

Pamela Shropshire
I hadn't read this book in many years; in fact, I remembered almost nothing about it. Once I got into it again, though, quite a lot came back to me.

The story is about the characters in a small New England village. The main characters are Bab and Betty, young daughters of Mrs. Moss, a widow, who acts as caretaker for a large empty house; Miss Celia, who inherited the house from her grandfather, and her brother, who is 10 years younger than she; Ben Brown, a boy of 12 who has run away from a circu
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
Katelyn Patterson
Jun 02, 2010 Katelyn Patterson rated it really liked it
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
Libby Talley
Jul 26, 2015 Libby Talley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the books I bought for free for my new Kindle. I thoroughly love Louisa May Alcott, so when I saw this I just had to get it. It took a little while to read, but it's one of those books that was difficult to put down when I had to. The only thing I didn't like about the digital version is that there are 64 errors and some are as simple as the three words that are suppose to be ears but ended up as cars. I decided to go to a book store to see the original version and it doesn't have ...more
Apr 22, 2015 Rhonda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fine example of classic children's literature.

Under the lilacs harks back to a simple time where virtue and honestly are the by words of life. A homeless runaway finds charity in a small town. His feet are set on the path of life while while benevolent friends surround and support him. This book by Louisa May Alcott will delight readers young and old and remind them that kindness wins the day.
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.
Karlyne Landrum
Apr 08, 2010 Karlyne Landrum rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jun 18, 2009 Ferris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!
Jan 04, 2009 Shannon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2007
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.
Jupiter's Fury
This is one of those books I had sitting on my shelf for ages and only got around to reading it now. It's a gentle and light read; one you can put down for awhile and come back to at your leisure. Young Ben Brown has run away from the circus, accompanied by his faithful dog, Sancho, in search of his father. He strikes up a friendship with sisters Bab and Betty, who along with the beautiful Miss Celia, take Ben under their wing, and provide him the stable home he never had. In typical Alcott fash ...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
Michelle Akers-dicken
What a sweet, colorful little story! I still love Little Women so much more but this was a nice change of pace for me. It painted a picture of an idealistic childhood. One with stories of a circus dog and his boy who ran away from the circus because of severe abuse (although he didn't seem to mind TOO awfully bad that he was abused). Abuse seemed to be widely accepted in the 1870's. If not for the kindness and generosity of a mother and her two daughters, a 20 something lady and her sickly broth ...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
May 17, 2014 Terri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: listened-to, librivox
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
Jul 06, 2015 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I discovered that iTunes offers many of the classics for free! I immediately began downloading the Louisa May Alcott books for summer reading.

I began with the books I'd never read. I thought I'd never read Under the Lilacs but the storyline was so familiar that I'm not sure now.

In any case, like all of Louisa May Alcott's books, this is a quiet book, as suggested by the title. It's also well worth re-reading if you haven't re-read it since childhood.

I'd recommend this sweet book to almost every
Jul 13, 2013 Heidi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2013
"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
Sep 15, 2013 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 31, 2014 Donna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Diane Walters
Nov 03, 2015 Diane Walters rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an audio book.

The story was about a young boy who had no family.

Of course, it was well written and an enjoyable tale. Through the whole book, I kept thinking about where our American society is today in its practice of our language or more so, I should say, the lack of it. This children's story had words in it that I didn't even know what the words meant. It was so beautifully written; yet, I doubt many people these days would stick with it, and I doubt many children would attempt to
Sep 12, 2011 Carey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
Jan 06, 2015 Alayne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews
Sería más bien un 3.75/5
Fue una historia que en momentos me atrapada muchísimos y en otros-sobre todo cercana al final-se me hacía pesada. Creo que tiene que ver más que nada con el hecho de estar de vacaciones y hacer de todo, pero de todas formas me pareció un argumento hermoso, sobre todo el final.
Me gusta cómo escribe Louisa May Alcott, así que seguramente lea otro libro suyo de los que hay en mi casa alguna vez.
Jan 21, 2016 Hosanna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Under the Lilacs is a delightful book for children, but also for young adults! I enjoyed reading it and even with the lack of adventure, the story was beautiful and the ending just perfect! I liked the well done characters who felt like real people. This is a good classic read. Under the Lilacs is free on Kindle because it is so old, though the edition does have numerous mistakes. However, the story really makes up for the Kindle errors!
Charity U
Apr 14, 2011 Charity U rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!
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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
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“George is regularly jolly; though now he's a minister,” 1 likes
“It takes so little to make a child happy, it is a pity grown people do not oftener remember it and scatter little bits of pleasure before the small people,” 0 likes
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