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Eight Cousins

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When Rose Campbell, a shy orphan, arrives at "The Aunt Hill" to live with her six aunts and seven boisterous male cousins, she is quite overwhelmed. How could such a delicate young lady, used to the quiet hallways of a girls' boarding school, exist in such a spirited home? It is the arrival of Uncle Alec that changes everything. Much to the horror of her aunts, Rose's forward-thinking uncle insists that the child get out of the parlor and into the sunshine. And with a little courage and lots of adventures with her mischievous but loving cousins, Rose begins to bloom.

Written by the beloved author of Little Women, Eight Cousins is a masterpiece of children's literature. This endearing novel offers readers of all ages an inspiring story about growing up, making friends, and facing life with strength and kindness.

224 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1874

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About the author

Louisa May Alcott

2,398 books8,321 followers
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/ 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.

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5 stars
13,949 (37%)
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12,597 (34%)
3 stars
7,805 (21%)
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745 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,298 reviews
Profile Image for Tharindu Dissanayake.
275 reviews455 followers
December 5, 2020
"It may upset things a trifle, but half a child's pleasure consists in having their fun when they want it."

I'm a big fan of Anne of Green Gables, Heidi and A Little Princes, so when I came across Eight Cousins, which appeared to be somewhat similar, couldn't help resisting reading the book. And without going in to much detail, this is a nice story - and a great one for children. However, I thought, it to be a bit less engaging compared to Anne and other books. Hadn't this book been intended for children, I'd have given 3 stars. Since that isn't the case, I believe a 4* ratings is not too generous. But, if the reader has already gone through books like Anne, this might become a bit dull (and a bit outdated too unfortunately). Story itself is good, though feels a little unrealistic or fairy-tale-like.

"A happy soul in a healthy body makes the best sort of beauty for man or woman."
Profile Image for Julie G .
858 reviews2,639 followers
August 12, 2019
This went from delightful to tedious in thirty pages. It's amazing to me that Jane Austen, who wrote some one hundred years before Alcott, could feel so incredibly modern and this novel so insufferably outdated.

If you like regular lines such as "Oh, you little dear!" and scenes of the older man holding the chin of the thirteen-year-old girl and tenderly kissing her rose-bud lips and telling her to mind him and all of her dreams shall come true (did I mention it is her uncle--her dear, dear uncle?), then by all means, rip into this "classic," and, while you're at it, read Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, too!

I actually couldn't even make it to the end, but I think she must marry the uncle. I honestly could not suffer through one more scene of the almost 14-year-old cuddling in dear uncle's lap.

If someone misled you and you thought this was a brilliant classic. . . go read Anne of Green Gables or Jane Austen or anything Bronte instead.
Profile Image for June G.
113 reviews53 followers
February 10, 2017
I had SUCH a crush on Uncle Alec, who rides in on his white charger bearing oatmeal and imported silk sashes and SAVES young Rose from well-meaning overbearing aunts and migraines and addictions--some heavy stuff even by today's kiddie lit standards. (If you haven't read it and think I'm kidding, I'm not.) And when I wasn't fantasizing about Uncle A, I imagined myself with my own gaggle of guy cousins to pal around with--one or two tapping at my heartstrings, of course. Five stars? How about eight :)
Profile Image for Christy Hall.
250 reviews52 followers
January 29, 2022
I loved Little Women when I was young. My mom gave me Eight Cousins when I was finished with Little Women and I remember liking it quite a bit. I’m not sure it held up after all these years but it was nice reading one of my mom’s old books again.

Rose has been orphaned and is under the care of her two elderly great-aunts, Peace and Plenty. One glorious day, her uncle Dr. Alec comes home to take charge of Rose’s care. As her guardian, Uncle Alec devises “cures” that help Rose to become a healthy and robust young lady who thinks of others and brings joy to all of her family. With her seven cousins to keep her company, Rose has much fun and learns many lessons.

The book is more episodic than having a real plot carried through the book. Each chapter is a new endeavor or lesson for Rose. Some are good lessons of character or health, which I suppose any young reader at the time of initial publication would have needed. Some chapters were cringe-worthy because of the clear classism and racism, as well as the hint of romance between cousins that will come to fruition in the sequel. Some of the characters are wonderful. I really did love Uncle Alec and Aunt Jessie. The seven boy cousins blend a bit together until about halfway through the book. Charlie, Archie and Mac have some major sequences that allow them the spotlight. Phebe is sweet and deserves more time but I suppose it’s Rose’s story so there isn’t room for the poor girl to shine like she should. Some sections drag quite a bit and are horribly outdated, which is probably why it took me so long to finish it. Other sections are delightful.

I liked returning to this novel. Probably because it reminded me of my mom. It’s an okay read and I’m sure others love it for the feeling of nostalgia.
Profile Image for Catherine.
70 reviews
March 6, 2008
The latest book in my Louisa May Alcott kick...and I found it generally charming. I love the idea of "throwing out the window" the general practices at the time (wearing tight corsets and belts, taking strong coffees and cordials to improve health, teaching girls to act like 'ladies' instead of allowing them fresh air and exercise) and enjoyed watching young Rose become a picture of health and happiness. I also loved the idea that her uncle taught her to be a self-reliant woman (hence the emphasis on housekeeping, cooking, etc.) instead of relying on servants and maids. Some of the ideas were still a bit old-fashioned, but I didn't find it offensive and would definitely encourage my children (daughters and sons) to read this book.
Profile Image for Katja Labonté.
2,243 reviews121 followers
July 13, 2022
5+ stars & 7/10 hearts. What a darling little story this is… just so sweet and fresh and relaxing! And still crammed full of excellent advice!

This book is set in late-1880s America and is evidently a protest from Alcott on the popular way of raising girls, and her suggestion of how to actually raise them. It’s fascinating from a historical point of view, giving a great glimpse of what things were like in Alcott’s time; and a lot of what it says still stands true today, and is great inspiration for young women or their parents. ;) From a writing standpoint, it’s tighter and better written than Little Women, yet just as homey, heartwarming, and old-timey.

The plot is delightful. Pretty much just a slice-of-life, everyday story, with awesome characters, and a slew of great reminders and messages. The humour is excellent! I love the Scottish heritage, and the lovely family reunions. And the characters really make the story. Sweet Rose, with her desire to be a good woman and use her life well. <3 Phebe, so brave and strong and humble. Dr. Alec, such a great father-figure and uncle. The aunts were all excellent figures—either encouraging or warning. Aunt Jessie is such a wonderful mother; Aunt Plenty & Aunt Peace are both wonderful; Aunt Jane, Aunt Clara, and Aunt Myra are all warnings in their own way. And the boys! They’re all so funny and real. Archie, of course, is my favourite—kind, dependable, responsible, gentlemanly Archie. Charlie is such a fascinating boy and yet so sad, such a warning. Mac is a dear, and so admirable. The other boys are all funny and sweet in their own ways. And every other side character is living and vibrant. I love the relationships so much. Archie & Charlie are such a pair, and Charlie + Rose’s sweet, cousinly friendship is beautiful. I love seeing how the boys & girls teamed up to help each other fight their failings and develop their strengths. It was a wonderful reminder.

Overall, this is an excellent book for girls of all ages to read, and I quite recommend it <3

A Favourite Quote: “But as a wise old fellow once said, ‘It is necessary to do right; it is not necessary to be happy.’”
A Favourite Humorous Quote: “‘Now I shall preach a short sermon[.] Jack can't always drive[,] and Willie may as well make up his mind to let Marion build her house by his, for she will do it, and he needn't fuss about it. Jamie seems to be a good boy, but I shall preach to him if he isn't[.]. Now you must all remember what I tell you, because I'm the captain, and you should mind me.’
“Here Lieutenant Jack spoke right out in meeting with the rebellious remark,—"Don't care if you are; you'd better mind yourself, and tell how you ... kept the biggest doughnut, and didn't draw fair when we had the truck.’
“‘Yes, and you slapped Frank; I saw you,’ bawled Willie Snow, bobbing up in his pew....
“‘I shan't build my house by Willie's if he don't want me to, so now!" put in little Marion, joining the mutiny....
“Captain Dove looked rather taken aback at this outbreak in the ranks; but, being a dignified and calm personage, he quelled the rising rebellion with great tact and skill by saying, briefly,—‘We will sing the last hymn ... and then we will go and have luncheon.’”

Content: Some mentions of drinking, smoking, & gambling (all condemned except for a toast at Christmas by adults). May contain some euphemisms; a few mentions of saints & gods/goddesses.
Profile Image for lavenderews.
435 reviews624 followers
July 27, 2021
Książki Louisy May Alcott za każdym razem potrafią mnie zaskoczyć. Emanują ciepłem, spokojem i urokiem, które czuć od pierwszych do ostatnich stron. Lubię powracać do jej historii. Wraz z upływem czasu potrafię znaleźć tam wiele nowych rzeczy, na nowo polubić bohaterów, a także ponownie poznać styl autorki, który otula jak najcieplejszy koc. Jej pióro ma w sobie coś tak wyjątkowego, co zbliża mnie jeszcze bardziej do samej historii. „Ośmioro kuzynów” to książka, która nie jest idealna, ale wywołuje uśmiech, wzrusza oraz zachwyca. To lektura przy której spędzicie miło czas, uspokoicie myśli i przede wszystkim będziecie się świetnie bawić. Nie sposób nie zaangażować się w losy wspaniałej głównej bohaterki Rose, która na kartach powieści staje się coraz mądrzejsza, mając przy tym wielkie serce. Nie brak w tej książce także moralizatorskiego głosu, jednak w moim odczuciu jest on dużo cichszy niż w przypadku moich ukochanych „Małych kobietek”. Jest to powolna, delikatna, sentymentalna lektura, w której można zakochać się bezpowrotnie. „Ośmioro kuzynów” to książka, która potrafi oczarować czytelnika i sprawić, żeby poczuł się jak w domu.
Profile Image for Ivonne Rovira.
1,840 reviews188 followers
July 7, 2018
I never knew that Louisa May Alcott ever wrote anything other than Little Women, its sequels and some scary stories. But in 1875, Alcott published Eight Cousins, a predictable, bathetic novel featuring a ridiculously plucky orphan named Rose Campbell and her seven boy cousins; except for Mac, all of them would make Pollyanna appear a spoiled, selfish misanthrope. It’s no Little Women by a long shot.

The story began well enough, with Rose mourning the death of her beloved invalid father. Her uncle, Dr. Alec Campbell, returns from abroad, having lived in China, India and elsewhere in Asia, and becomes her guardian. And that’s when the book rapidly becomes cloying with perfect children who are ever cheerful, helpful and grateful. It was so saccharine that my teeth hurt.

The book has one saving grace: It explores the forward-thinking educational methods promoted by Alcott’s father, education reformer Bronson Alcott, including learning by doing, literary discussions, cross-curricular education, and a rejection of rote learning and corporal punishment. These and some other of his methods are now standard in education.

Some books can survive through the ages and entertain children (and adults, too) decades after they’re first released: Little Women (1868), Understood Betsy (1917), Daddy-Long-Legs (1912), The Railway Children (1905), Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1903) or Anne of Green Gables (1908); however, Eight Cousins isn’t one of them. For Alcott super-fans only.
Profile Image for Andrea Cox.
Author 2 books1,631 followers
May 5, 2018
This was a delightful book with great charm. It had many twists that surprised me, and the characters were adorable. I loved the unconventionality that was Uncle Alec's doctoring. Very unique and special.

* expletives (a few)
* swearing by saints (twice)
* underage drinking, smoking, and gambling
* one or two mentions of gods and godesses

I was not compensated for my honest review.
Profile Image for Jessica.
Author 27 books5,589 followers
March 20, 2017
I love Little Women, I really do. Though I realize in retrospect that a lot of it is sort of . . . preaching the philosophies of the May/March parents. Which is fine, because wanting girls to be strong and self-sufficient is a wonderful thing.

But if you thought Marmee was a little too full of wholesome advice, this is NOT the book for you. The entire book revolves around orphaned Rose, and how her Uncle Alec, a free-thinking doctor, rehabilitates her. The virtues of fresh air, exercise, wholesome food, and hard work are touted in every chapter. The evils of corsets, high fashion, earrings, coffee, and other frivolities are scorned! There is an entire chapter devoted to outfitting Rose for the winter, where one fashionable outfit is roundly excoriated, and cast aside in favor of a simple yet well cut frock over warm long underwear!

I mean, it's cute and all, and Alcott has a simple, fun style of writing, and I can see that her ideas would have been revolutionary back in the day. But in this day and age, it's like, They really thought she was gonna die because she went ice skating with her male cousins?!

The thing that really kept me from enjoying the book though, was the racism. There are a pair of Chinese men in the book who are not only described repeatedly as being beady-eyed and yellow-skinned, and having the "most queer customs and clothing" but are also heartily laughed at by the children for their accents and customs, and go out of their way to give the children gifts and amuse them with their foreign ways. YEEESH.

Also, the classist way that Phebe the maid is treated horrified and fascinated me. Rose "adopts" her, which everyone thinks is the most noble and wonderful thing Rose or anyone has ever done. Yet as far as I can tell, this amounts to totally forgetting about her for months at a time, then remembering, feeling bad, being consoled by her uncle, and then giving her a present. Phebe wants to be educated, and Rose remembers this when she comes upon her trying to teach herself, pats her on the head (though Phebe is older) and sets up a play school because she is bored. There is no indication that this school is in session for more than a week. But everyone applauds Rose, and ignores Phebe, as long as she doesn't shirk her duties. Phebe is treated like a very small and backward child, rarely asked what she wants, and Rose is constantly feted for caring about her maid and giving her presents that mostly consist of books and clothes she doesn't want.

In short, I can see why this one never became the classic that Little Women did.
Profile Image for Sarah.
Author 40 books391 followers
March 11, 2016
Age Appropriate For: All Ages
Best for Ages: 10-18

Some of my favorite memories of my early teen years were the hours that I spent reading Little Women with my sisters. We read the whole book together over a few months, sitting outside in the woods, each with a different project. Alcott always makes me think of those happy times, and makes me feel nostalgic.

My younger sisters have read many more Alcott books then I have, and I got to hear all about their favorites. The book I heard them gush the most about was Eight Cousins, so I decided to read it this year. I am so glad I did.

While I think that this book can be enjoyed by all ages, it was written for the young. It is a wonderful adventure of a little girl and her cousins, they type of story I would have devoured as a child. There is no-romance, and there are good lessons and interesting characters.

Rose was such an endearing character, and I loved how she saw her faults and worked hard to fight against them. I also loved how her Uncle worked so hard to do what was best for her, even if it was against the fashion.

The setting, though it was written in the backdrop of the 1800’s, is not very hard to imagine it taking place in our own time. Alcott had a timeless way of writing and a way of capturing the troubles of the old and young alike in a way that makes it never feel old.

I highly recommend this to girls who love old books, non-romantic stories, and books that feel real.
Profile Image for Kristen.
767 reviews21 followers
February 23, 2008
If you've read any Louisa May Alcott, the general ideas and characters will be familiar. The characters are all very high-minded and very concerned with morality, building character, proper behavior, etc. Being written nearly 150 years ago, some of the ideas on health, class and race relations, and gender roles are very antiquated, and can even seem a bit bigoted. But you have to remember the time in which it was written. The way they describe a Chinese man is particularly interesting.

The basic plot follows Rose, a girl of means, who is orphaned and goes to live on the "Aunt-Hill" with her many aunts, her seven boy cousins, and her devoted guardian, Uncle Alec. We see her grow, change and learn over the course of an experimental year, in which Uncle Alec has complete charge over her upbringing, with no interference from the aunts. At the end of the year, they are to decide whether it has been a success, and whether Rose should stay with Uncle Alec, or move in with one of her aunts. Does Rose have a good year? Does she stay with Uncle Alec? I'll never tell - you have to read it.

Though older books can be a bit difficult to read, due to the different language and writing styles of more than a century ago, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and plan to read the sequel "A Rose in Bloom" as well.
Profile Image for Alisha.
944 reviews60 followers
February 6, 2017
When I was in my early teens, there was a trifecta of authors that I devoured: Jane Austen, L.M. Montgomery, and Louisa May Alcott. I even made an informational web page about them on Angelfire... those were the days...

Anyway, revisiting a book like Eight Cousins reminds me exactly how I was influenced by these characters. A lot of my world view was shaped by this innocent wholesomeness, exemplified by Rose, the main character. Her ladylike presence automatically inspired people around her (namely, men) to be their best selves! So much gentility and respect! This impressed me mightily! I subconsciously stored this fascinating social education away, only to find that's not quite how it goes...

But while it's a bit out of place in the modern age, and occasionally some would say naive, I'm glad it was part of my youth and wouldn't trade it for anything!

In this book, orphaned Rose comes to live with her guardian uncle, and her neighbors are 7 boy cousins and a bunch of other corresponding aunts and uncles!

She arrives a tired, droopy little thing who survives on strong coffee, is proud of her tightly cinched little waist, and is about as uneducated as most girls of her class... but Uncle Alec changes all that. By the end of the book she's well on her way to being a truly healthy young girl with high spirits and noble ambitions, who can also make her 7 cousins toe the line.

There are some delightful episodes, such as the "freedom suit" her uncle orders for her (the opposite of a corset). And, pay particular attention to the development of Mac, her bookworm cousin... because there's more to come in the next book!!
Profile Image for Ann☕.
282 reviews
November 30, 2022
Eight Cousins lacked a lot of the charm found in Little Women. The story was too sappy for my liking and I thought the main character was spoiled, or at least overly indulged.
Profile Image for Willow Anne.
402 reviews78 followers
September 26, 2022
This was such a sweet little book! I haven't read it before, but it makes me feel nostalgic for the types of books I used to read when I was younger, because this is just exactly something I would've read back then. And I loved that about it.

Rose was so sweet and good and cute, and it was heartwarming to see her trying her best to be obedient. And she really did improve throughout the book into a beautiful young lady. I want to be like her!
Profile Image for Ana.
750 reviews383 followers
May 2, 2020
If you read Little Women and thought, “Wow, I wonder what other books Louisa May Alcott has written!” just know that I, a Little Woman superfan who has read almost all of Alcott’s books, think all of them are absolutely trash.
I’m sure Alcott was considered a feminist icon back in the Stone Age or whatever, but WOW she sucks at writing women.
She’s unbelievably judgmental when girls want to do anything that involves fashion or beauty. Like, yeah, you don’t need rich dresses or makeup to look pretty. But if you want rich dresses and makeup then who the hell is Louisa May to judge you???
We get it, you were poor when you grew up so you think that any woman who cares about her appearance is a prostitute.
Jesus Christ, the amount of female bashing is literally impossible to read about. The protagonist, who is a 13 year old girl, gets bashed and called silly for getting her ears pierced-something that MANY girls did at that point. Why? Because she’s being vain and no little girl should make herself seem pretty. She should only ever be modest and live in a goddamn nursery as she sews to her death and complains that “this new generation is so conceited!”
Shut the hell up Alcott. You wrote one good book in your entire life.
Profile Image for Mela.
1,388 reviews169 followers
November 13, 2022
Let's face it, Louisa May Alcott wrote a beautiful books for young adult/children. It is a fact. Period. ;-)

During reading I was thinking all the time that this book should be obligatory for children and also for parents (guardians). There are so many people who read guides for parents and so on. I think they should start with such books like this one. It is so full of wisdom that you can't miss it. And almost all of them are true today too. There weren't computer games or Internet in those times but both then and now children are essentially the same (despite what television or civilisation tell).

Fathers and mothers are too absorbed in business and housekeeping to study their children, and cherish that sweet and natural confidence which is a child’s surest safeguard, and a parent’s subtlest power. So the young hearts hide trouble or temptation till the harm is done, and mutual regret comes too late. Happy the boys and girls who tell all things freely to father or mother, sure of pity, help, and pardon; and thrice happy the parents who, out of their own experience, and by their own virtues, can teach and uplift the souls for which they are responsible

Also, I have had fun reading about plays they have.

Of course, my next book will be a sequel: Rose in Bloom.
Profile Image for Ellen Hamilton.
Author 1 book14 followers
January 3, 2018
There are no words to express how lovely this book was to me. I just loved it.

I am wondering though, what exactly was the disagreement between Dr. Alec and Rose's father? Was it that they both loved the same girl, Rose's mother? If so, then I fear that the next book, Rose in Bloom, will hurt a bit.

"Fathers and mothers are too absorbed in business and housekeeping to study their children and cherish that sweet and natural confidence, which is a child's surest safeguard, and a parent's subtlest power. So the young hearts hide trouble or temptation till the harm is done, and mutual regret comes too late.
Happy the boys and girls who tell all things freely to father or mother, sure of pity, help, and pardon; and thrice happy the parents who out of their own experience, and by their own virtues, can teach and uplift the souls for which they are responsible."

I cannot help but agree with first part of the quote. As for the second part, I wish that this freedom of confidence existed between my parents and me. It would have helped save me a whole lot of trouble. However, I hope to remember this when I am a parent.

I can't talk much more about this book, because.... well, I want to cry over it a little.
Profile Image for Anna {Follow me for reviews!}.
700 reviews158 followers
August 22, 2022
This was a cute little classic about a orphaned child named Rose who finds herself suddenly surrounded by 7 boy cousins. She believes she does not like boys and also does not seem to even believe in herself much at all. Her Uncle Alec is given the chance to take care of her for a year and see how things turn out; if she does well then she can stay with him if she chooses, and if she is unhappy, then not. It's a slow moving story of friendships and growing up but if you don't mind a slow pace, this book might be the one for you. Cute over all, but nothing super amazing.
Profile Image for Merie Shen.
319 reviews77 followers
March 14, 2022
This was such a cute book. And that's saying much because I don't think I've ever called any classic "a cute book."

But I enjoyed myself so much reading this! The characters, as trying as they could be sometimes, were delightful, and it was so satisfying to see them grow. I can't wait to continue with the sequel.
Profile Image for Gauri.
236 reviews6 followers
January 9, 2019
Halfway through reading this book, I dismissed it as a saccharine funnel through which Alcott wished to teach children life lessons. After finishing it, I still think this is true, but I realize this book is dated and is more appropriately viewed as a piece of historical work. I mean this in the sense that there are some backwards views that are reflected in this book, but also some surprisingly progressive ones that Alcott cements, which is worth some notice.

There are parts of this book that stick out sorely: The author wrote only derogatory descriptions of the Chinese characters she included in the book, using the characters as one-dimensional comic entertainers. Characters also continuously mentioned that women had flighty, childlike emotions, and they were not to be taken seriously when emotional. Characters also discussed how women existed to support the men in their lives, or function in a caretaker role for those around them.

However, I realized that though backwards prejudices are reflected in this book, this book is at the same time somewhat progressive. Uncle Alec, Rose's guardian, values Rose's opinions and consent to the various things the family encourages her to do. Rose is allowed to speak for herself, and Uncle Alec insists on treating Rose, who is a child, with the consideration and seriousness he would provide adults. Instead of giving Rose medicines and demanding her to rest idly at all times for fear of damaging her constitution, Uncle Alec pushes her to exercise regularly and eat healthily. He forbids her to wear corsets that would damage her body. He defends Rose from her aunts who insist on dressing her in a fashionable but cumbersome getup, and insists on Rose being allowed to choose more comfortable garments that she preferred to wear. He encouraged her to learn important skills like balancing account books, cooking, and clothes-making, so that she would be able to support herself or be independent in some regard. He also taught her subjects like anatomy when she expressed interest in medicine. Uncle Alec praised Rose for her hard work in doing chores and her initiative in educating herself. Work ethic and intelligence were the young girl's most prized values.

Rose was treated with respect and was allowed to be free and individualistic -- and I imagine that wasn't very common in those days. These things may be perfectly natural to us now that we barely even make a note of this perspective in media when it's portrayed, but in the 1800's, I doubt girls were actually given that sort of freedom to be their own person. So, I think female authors like Alcott introduced these revolutionary ideas to a whole generation, which adhered to some people and made some social progress.
Profile Image for Kailey (Luminous Libro).
2,843 reviews432 followers
July 27, 2021
After her father's death Rose is listless and ill, until her new guardian, Uncle Alec, encourages her to try healthful food, sunshine, and exercise. Gradually, Rose begins to improve both in health and spirits, and soon she is able to join her cousins in their frolics and adventures. She has seven cousins, all boys, who gather around her with energetic fun. But Rose also has a great many meddlesome aunts, who object to Uncle Alec's parenting style, saying that he will make her into a shameful tomboy instead of an elegant young lady. Ultimately, Rose has to decide which path is the best for her own happiness.

This book just gets sweeter every time I read it! What a comfort it is to reread old favorites! I always cry at the sad parts and cheer for Rose when she triumphs.

I just adore the close relationships between the family. The cousins really look out for each other and help each other in the sweetest way. I especially love the friendship between Rose and Phebe! They are so cute and giggly, but their friendship is also strong through tough times.

I always think it's so weird and funny that the characters think it's vain of Rose to want to wear earrings. I guess it was a new fashion back then. They sure make a big fuss about it in several scenes, and everyone tells Rose how silly and frivolous she is. Haha!

I love the charming writing style. It really pulls you into the story, and makes you care about the characters. The plot is very wholesome with dozens of moral lessons, but I like that. It's told in such an emotional and interesting way that I don't mind being preached at.
Profile Image for Celia&#x1fa90;.
493 reviews1 follower
March 4, 2022
Y termino este 2021 con una vieja conocida.

Tenía 9 o 10 años cuando me dio una autentica fiebre por la novela “Mujercitas”, la cual leí por primera vez en una edición ilustrada de la añeja y encantadora editorial Nuevo Auriga. No recuerdo quien fue, si algún familiar o amigo de la familia, pero alguien me regalo una novela de Louisa May Alcott que también había sacado el mismo sello, “Juventud”. En cuanto lo comencé, descubrí que era la segunda parte de otra novela, que era, como no, “Los Primitos”. Aunque leí esa obra y me entere bastante bien de que iba y que relaciones había entre los personajes, y pese a que no me emociono especialmente, siempre me quedo la espinita de no haber leído la primera parte antes. La saque en su momento de la parte de literatura infantil de la biblioteca publica de mi ciudad, pero por lo que fuera creo que solo leí algunos fragmentos. Así que cuando el año pasado la encontré en una tienda de segunda mano por un euro, no dude en hacerme con ella.

Dicho lo cual, dejo de irme por las ramas y empiezo la reseña de una vez.

En “Los Primitos” conocemos la historia de Rosy Campbell, la cual acaba de perder a su padre. Como no tiene más familia, la huérfana termina al cuidado de su tío Alec, trasladándose a la llamada “Colina de las Tías”, nombre que recibe porque en el lugar viven las otras seis tías de Rosy con sus siete hijos varones. Lo que promete ser una experiencia traumática para la triste y deprimida niña será todo lo contrario. Gracias a los cuidados y el afecto de su tío, y a la convivencia con sus variopintos primos, Rosy ira transformándose en una joven fuerte, sana y bondadosa; aprendiendo varias lecciones valiosas y convirtiéndose en el centro de la familia Campbell.

Nos encontramos, pues, ante una obra del genero de crecimiento, en el que su protagonista y sus primitos aprenden y evolucionan a lo largo de sus páginas, a la par que se cuestionan los roles de genero impuestos por la cultura e ideología del momento, siendo uno de los aspectos más interesantes de la misma. Y a veces controvertidos, por lo menos para mi. Es cierto que al final de la misma Rosy se convierte en un ángel del hogar y de su familia, y que se critica en varias ocasiones que la coquetería es uno de sus grandes defectos (para mi uno de los momentos más bochornosos fue en el que los primos se vuelven locos cuando descubren que Rosy se ha agujereado las orejas. Incluso llegan a amenazar con ponerle una argolla en la nariz, cual vaca, para castigarla por su vanidad). Pero también se critica sin contemplaciones que algunos de sus primos quieran iniciarse en la vida adulta frecuentando malas compañías, fumando y emborrachándose. Es decir, adoptándose roles netamente masculinos para la mentalidad de la época.

No os voy a mentir, tampoco en esto:las novelas de Louisa May Alcott tienen un problema y es que han envejecido muy mal. Y esta que nos ocupa no es una excepción. Hay momentos y situaciones que me han resultado muy noños y pasados, y circunstancias que se han presentado que no dudo que resultarían impublicables actualmente. Que Rosy se decida “adoptar” a la joven sirviente Phoebe y darla una educación, sería visto, hoy por hoy, con ojo critico y como una muestra de condescendencia y superioridad moral por parte de una niña rica dispuesta a ser la salvadora de otra con menos recursos y posibilidades.

De todas formas, si hay algo que me ha llamado mucho la atención de “Los Primitos” es su clara intención didáctica. No en vano Alcott fue, además de escritora, enfermera e institutriz, e hija de Amos Bronson Alcott, un controvertido reformador educativo. La mayor parte de la obra se centra en los cambios que el tío Alec hace en la dieta, actividades y costumbres de su pupila, y en las asignaturas que estudia y como lo hace. Hay una clara critica al sistema educativo y las escuelas de la época, más centrados en hacer que sus alumnos estudien un batiburrillo de materias, que del hecho de que aprendan cosas adecuadas para su edad y que les sean útiles en el futuro, de una forma que les resulte clara. Esta es la parte que más he disfrutado porque me ha llamado la atención comparándola con la situación del sistema educativo español en la actualidad. Más de un siglo más tarde resulta bochornoso ver lo poco que a grandes rasgos no ha cambiado la situación. Esta critica me ha parecido el alma del libro, para que mentir. De hecho, varios de los fragmentos que más he disfrutado de esta lectura se deben a que me ha sorprendido lo adelantada que estaba para su época, al proponer una educación activa, en la que la salud y las buenas lecturas tenían un peso fundamental. El capitulo en el que se defendía la importancia de conocer el cuerpo humano para saber como cuidarlo y cuales pueden ser los motivos de las enfermedades, me ha sorprendido gratamente por motivos personales (siempre he pensado que en los colegios e institutos debería ser obligatorio que se enseñasen primeros auxilios).

De todas formas, también os digo que creo que esta parte didáctica se ha comido, en muchos momentos lo que es la trama de la novela propiamente dicha, la adaptación de Rosy a su nueva vida y las relaciones entre ella y sus siete primos. Con excepción de un episodio previo, no es hasta casi el último cuarto de la obra que esto cobra más relevancia. Es cierto que todo esto no se pierde de vista a lo largo de la lectura, pero hay veces que notaba que eso perdía peso. De todas formas, tengo que decir que no sé hasta que punto esto se debe a la pluma de Alcott o a la forma en que está editada la obra. Me da la impresión de que los ejemplares de Nuevo Auriga están tan enfocados en hacer la lectura accesible para los más jóvenes que se pierden episodios y la traducción pierde matices. Pero no puedo decirlo con seguridad. Aún así, si hay algo que a nivel narrativo me ha gustado es como Alcott se mueve en un núcleo familiar tan extenso. Cada uno de sus miembros tiene su personalidad bien definida, y no es difícil moverse entre tanto primo y tía y saber la relación de todos con todos. No voy a decir que los personajes tengan las caracterizaciones más complejas y trabajas del mundo, ni que haya momentos que sus reacciones sean indeciblemente ñoñas. Tienen los mínimos defectos para que no resulten demasiado pesados para el lector y este pueda empatizar con ellos. Y por supuesto, dichos defectos tienen una finalidad moral y educativa, tal y como puede esperarse en este genero literario. Pero al fin de al cabo estamos hablando de una novela de más de cien años destinada a un público infantil juvenil. Bastante que bajo todo hay una fuerte critica hacia la sociedad del momento y una buena carga satírica.

En resumidas cuentas “Los Primitos” es una obra que tiene sus cosas, sus luces y sus sombras, con momentos que resultan muy desfasados. Dudo que nadie pueda sentirse identificado ya con sus personajes y con muchos de los valores que aquí se presentan. Pero está claro que se escribió con la mejor de las intenciones y que aún hay cosas en ella que pueden salvarse, como la necesidad de dar amor y escuchar a los niños, la importancia de ser, ante todo, buenas personas, la necesidad de cuidar la salud y hacer deporte, y la belleza que pueden tener los lazos familiares. Es una obra añeja y (a veces excesivamente) buenista, pero que se lee rápidamente y que resulta bastante entrañable. De todas formas, tras leerla me reafirmo en algo que llevo diciendo mucho tiempo: tengo muchas ganas de leer alguna obra más adulta de Louisa May Alcott, aquellas que son más oscuras y enfocadas en el misterio. El tipo de literatura al que, de no ser por la presión de sus editores y sus necesidades familiares, a ella le hubiera gustado dedicarse.

Ojalá pueda hacerlo en 2022.
783 reviews3 followers
June 27, 2021

It's so nice to reread a book that you loved and grew up reading again and find that it really was as good as you remembered. Rose and her seven boy cousins are such an entertaining set of characters. I loved the adventures and hilarity. Uncle Alec is even more splendid than I remembered. And his experiment certainly worked. The bit where Rose offers to be Charlie's little sister? These are the stories I grew up on - is it any wonder that I have a plethora of adopted big and little brothers? Lol.
Profile Image for Sarah.
189 reviews14 followers
February 9, 2022
Nice little book. Much better than I anticipated, looking forward to Rose in Bloom.
200 reviews
July 18, 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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