Katie's Reviews > Jo's Boys

Jo's Boys by Louisa May Alcott
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's review
Jul 10, 2010

really liked it
Read in June, 2010

** spoiler alert ** This was a delightful read. Very simple, easy to put down and pick up again, and true to the style of Louisa May Alcott, leaves little nuggets of wisdom all along the way. It's fairly short, and a good supplement to read while you're reading something depressing yet beautiful, like a Hardy, to lift your spirits when his story gets too sad.

Quotable Quotes

"The three sisters stood a moment looking up at the beloved picture with eyes full of tender reverence and the longing that never left them; for this noble mother had been so much to them that no one could ever fill her place."

"For the Professor never was ashamed of the fact that he still considered his wife the dearest woman in the world."

"The fame she never did quite accept; for it takes very little to make a great deal of smoke nowadays, and notoriety is not real glory."

"Jo's favorite plan had been a room where Marmee could sit in peace and enjoy herself after her hard, heroic life."

"Grand-children brighten the twilight of life with their dutiful affection."

"A very precious time to all, for she rejoiced as only mothers can in the food fortunes of their children. She had lived to reap the harvest she sowed; had seen prayers answered, hopes blossom, good gifts bear fruit, peace and prosperity bless the home she had made; and then, like some brave, patient angel, whose work was done, turned her face heavenward, glad to rest."

"A happy omen, that bow of promise arched over the young heads, as if Heaven smiled upon their union, and showed them that above the muddy earth and rainy skies the blessed sun still shone for all."

"So be prudent and invest your money; don't give it away, for rainy days come to all of us, and dependence would be very hard for you to bear."

"Anything fresh and daring, free and romantic, is always attractive to us womenfolk. Don't be discouraged; you'll find an anchor some day, and be content to take shorter voyages and bring home a good cargo."

"His love for us is a safeguard, and we must keep a hold on him till is older or has a stronger tie to help him."

"Bess, indignant at the insult...but too well bred to show it except in her voice, which was as sweet and as cold as ice cream."

"They all seemed to feel that life was beginning to grow serious; and even while they enjoyed those lovely summer days together they were conscious that they were children no longer, and often in the pauses of their fun talked soberly of their plans and hopes, as if anxious to know and help one another before they drifted fartherj apart on their different ways."

"I should be a most ungrateful fellow alive if I did not love, honour, and serve women with all my heart and might, for to them I owe everything I am or ever shall be."

"In the new life you are going to there will be a thousand trials and temptations, and only your own wit and wisdom to rely on. That will be the time to test the principles we have tried to give you, and see how firm they are. Of course, you will make mistakes- we all do; but don't let go of your conscience and drift along blindly. Watch and pray, dear Nat; and while your hand gains skill, let your head grow wiser, and keep your heart as innocent and warm as it is now."

"It is that very struggle with obstacles that does us good... You must paddle your own canoe now, and learn to avoid the rapids and steer straight to the port you want to reach."

"It takes a fine character to rule justly and kindly; you will have to put by your boyish ways and remember your dignity."

"Virtue, which means honor, honesty, courage, and all that makes character, is the red thread that marks a good man wherever he is. Keep that always and everywhere, so that even if wrecked by misfortune, that sign shall still be found and recognized."

"No matter what happens to your body, keep your soul clean, your heart true to those who love you, and do your duty to the end."

"Better lose your life than your soul, and one such passion leads to worse sins."

"That always was your trial, Dan, and I can sympathize with you; for I've been trying to govern my own temper all my life, and haven't learnt yet... For heaven's sake, guard your demon well, and don't let a moment's fury ruin all your life."

"Now see here; never sneer at good things or pretend to be worse than you are. Don't let false shame make you neglect the religion without which no man can live."

"Sooner or later you will feel the need of Him, and He will come to you and hold you up when all other help fails."

"Like all young people she was sure that her whole life could be settled by one human creature, quite forgetting how wonderfully Providence trains us by disappointment, surprises us with unexpected sucess, and turns our seeming trails into blessings."

"When I act I am perfectly happy. I seem to live, to be in my own world, and each new part is a new friend. I love Shakespeare, and am never tired of his splendid people."

"Fame is a pearl many dive for and only a few bring up. Even when they do, it is not perfect, and they sigh for more, and lose better things in struggling for them."

"I advise you to go back to school and finish your education. That is the first step, for all accomplishments are needed, and a single talent makes a very imperfect character. Cultivate mind and body, heart and soul, and make yourself an intelligent, graceful, beautiful, and healthy girl."

"We have to climb slowly, with many slips and falls. Can you wait as well as work?"

"Cultivate that talent of yours. It is a special gift, this power to bring tears and smiles, and a sweeter task to touch the heart than to freeze the blood or fire the imagination."

"All artists feel in their own beautiful world, and learning to see how sacred good gifts are, how powerful, and how faithfully they should be used for high ends, each in its own place helping to educate, refine, and refresh."

"It is a serious thing to accept a girl's love and trust, and let her look up to you for tenderness and truth in return. Don't let little Dora look in vain, but be a man in all things for her sake, and make this affection a blessing to you both."

"This engagement, so merrily made, was the anchor which kept our mercurial Tom happy, and made a man of him."

"You inherit that love of books from Grandpa; he can't live without them. I'm glad of it. Tastes of that kind show a refined nature, and are both a comfort and a help all one's life."

"Now you are a man, and must begin your life for yourself. Do your best, and be as honest, useful, and happy as your father."

"I think it a very honorable and noble profession to select and give good books to the world; and I'm satisfied to be a humble helper in the work."

"It adds so much to one's happiness to love the task one does. I used to hate teaching; but housekeeping for my own family was always sweet, though much harder in many ways."

"Ah me! The tastes of the mother come out in her children, and she must atone for them by letting them have their own way, I suppose."

"We don't choose out talents, but we needn't hide them in a napkin because they are not just what we want."

"Now, there is a girl after my own heart. Pretty, well-bred, well-educated, and yet domestic, a real companion as well as help-meet for some good and intelligent man."

"Emil was too spent to do anything, except lie still and give thanks, more fervently and gratefully than ever before, for the blessed gift of life, which was the sweeter for a sense of duty faithfully performed."

"The story of his downfall is soon told; for it came, as so often happens, just when he felt unusually full of high hopes, good resolutions, and dreams of a better life."

"There is hope and help for everyone, for God's mercy is infinite and man's charity is great; but penitence and submission must come before the cure is possible."

"Good and evil fought for Dan that night as did the angel and the devil for Sintram, and it was hard to tell whether lawless nature or loving heart would conquer. Remorse and resentment, shame and sorrow, pride and passion, made a battle-field of that narrow cell, and the poor fellow felt as if he had fiercer enemies to fight now than any he had met in all his wanderings."

"Slowly, as the steadfast drop wears away the confidence, and led by him he began to climb out of the Valley of Humiliation towards the mountains, whence, through the clouds, one can catch glimpses of the Celestial City which all true pilgrims sooner or later turn their wistful eyes and stumbling feet."

"He would find work of some sort by which to support himself, as many another student did... It was the only honest thing to do, but very hard for the poor fellow to crush his little vanities, renounce the delights so dear to the young, own his folly, and step down from his pedistal to be pitied, laughed at, and forgotten."

"Nat woke the echoes with the dear old airs, finding now as always his best comforter in music, to whom henceforth he swore to be a more loyal subject."

"It was easy to plan plays full of noble speeches and thrilling situations,but very hard to write them."

"She had learned a lesson in trying to act well her part on the real stage, where all have to take their share in the great drama of life."

"As the great Bergmann seldom praised his pupils, these words filled Nat's soul with pride and joy, and he worked yet more diligently than before to fulfill his master's prophecy."

"Good clothes alone don't make a gentleman here. We require a good deal more."

"My dear boys, if I didn't love you, I would not say these things. I know they are not pleasant; but my conscience won't let me hold my peace when a word may keep you from two of the great sins that curse the world, and send so many young men to destruction."

"No fellow need to go wrong unless he wants to."

"Chance words spoken in kindness often help amazingly; and that's what old people are here for- else their experience is of little use."

"In these household retreats, with books and work, and their daughters by them, they read and sewed and talked in the sweet privacy that domestic women love, and can make so helpful by a wise mixture of cooks and chemistry, table linen and theology, prosaic and good poetry."

"The hands that dropped the thimbles for pens, lexicons, and celestial globes, were better fitted for life's work, whether to rock cradles, tend the sick, or help on the great work of the world."

"Cultivate cheerfulness and content, if nothing else."

"If you must earn your bread, try to make it sweet with cheerfulness, not bitter with the daily regret that is isn't cake."

"Keep it up, and see how happy life will be with a brave heart, a willing hand, and plenty to do."

"It is all nonsense about girls not being able to study as well as boys."

"Common sense versus custom."

"Even Mrs. Jo settled in her collar, and Mrs. Meg felt if her cap was right, while Bess shook out her curls and Josie boldly consulted the glass; for they were women, in spite of philosophy and philanthropy."

"It impressed them more than many quiet home lectures would have done, and roused an ambition to help when their time should come, well knowing that even in glorious America there is still plenty to be done before she is what she should be- truly just, and great, and great."

"Though they might never be Harriet Martineaus, Elizabeth Brownings, or George Elliots, they might become noble, useful, and independent women, and earn for themselves some sweet title from the grateful lips of the poor, better than any a queen could bestow."

"'My son, obey me!' and when Mrs. Jo spoke in that tone her word was law."

"He is so honest, he won't ask until he has much to give. But he forgets that love is everything. I know he's rich in that; I see and feel it; and any woman should be glad to get it."

"Things seemed to change suddenly; she felt that her heart was large enough for both love and duty."

"Mothers can forgive anything! Tell me all, and be sure that I will never let you go, though the whole world should turn from you."

"That was better than any words; and poor Dan clung to her in speechless gratitude, feeling the blessedness of mother love- that divine gift which comforts, purifies, and strengthens all who seek it."

"This was plainly written in his too expressive face, as, fancying it unseen, he let it tell the longing after beauty, peace, and happiness embodied for him in the innocent fair girl before him."

"And remember, dear, if the sweet girl is denied you, the old friend is always here to love and trust and pray for you."

"Ah me! It does seem as if life was made of partings, and they get harder as we go on."

"And now, having endeavored to suit everyone by many weddings, few deaths, and as much prosperity as the eternal fitness of things will permit, let the music stop, the lights die out, and the curtain fall forever on the March family."

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