Julia Reed's Reviews > Eight Cousins

Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott
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Jul 18, 11

Read in July, 2011

Every so often I get the urge to travel down memory lane and read some of the books that I loved as a child. I went through a phase where I polished off all of the Anne of Green Gables series on my Kindle, and another where I did the Little House books, so I guess it was inevitable that when I next needed to scratch that "childhood period fiction" itch, I'd reach for one of my dearly beloved favorites, Louisa May Alcott. It's interesting to think that many of the authors of beloved children's fiction written in or about the 19th century lived themselves very depressing lives(Look up Lucy Maud Montgomery if you don't believe me)that were at odds with the general happiness of the characters they wrote about. LMA is no exception, except in that her characters often reflect some of the own poverty and hardship that she faced in her daily life. They always do so with goodwill and Christian courage, to the point where it gets a little tiresome, but the bits of good writing and humanity that peek through the preaching are delicious enough for me to keep coming back for more. Eight Cousins is one of the lesser read works of LMA, but a favorite of mine. It departs from the usual "poor children maintain good attitudes in the face of struggle" theme by dealing with wealthy children, who maintain good attitudes in the face of struggle. But I don't read it so much for the children as I do for the adults. I think one of the lesser appreciated things about LMA is that while her children might be a little too wholesome for modern audiences to stomach, there's very little wrong with the way she writes adult characters. Consider that the best parts of Little Women are the second half, when the girls are grown, and you'll see what I mean. Eight Cousins features some wonderful grown up characters, and plenty of squeaky clean kids to help me get my childhood fix. Even better I think is "Rose in Bloom" the Eight Cousins sequel where Rose and the boys finally grow up and are therefore permitted enough faults and foibles to make their more saccharine parts go down much easier.
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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

Truth is, I think that the depression makes authors be able to relate to serious, real life situations more. Even though they couldn't live their lives to the fullest, I think authors like LMA had more emotions than others who have lived happy-go-lucky lives with no suffering. Just in my opinion. :D


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