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Hospital Sketches

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  1,913 ratings  ·  200 reviews
A collection of letters written when Alcott was a Civil War army nurse, they garnered Alcott's first critical recognition for her observations and humour. ...more
Paperback, 80 pages
Published October 25th 2005 by Dodo Press (first published 1863)
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Average rating 3.68  · 
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 ·  1,913 ratings  ·  200 reviews


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Diane S ☔
Mar 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 5000-2019, lor-2019
3.5 This is going to be a short review, since I just reviewed [book:Louisa on the Front Lines: Louisa May Alcott in the Civil War|40537448 a few days ago. I was surprised at how much of that book was directly quoted from this one. Though I did like reading this, since it was wholly Louisas thoughts without authors comments. This book was mentioned several time in the Civil War book which is what piqued my interest in this one.
Teresa
Dec 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this concurrently with Becoming Dickens: The Invention of a Novelist -- unintentionally, but appropriately -- as not only was Dickens one of Alcott's favorite writers, but this fictionalized memoir of Alcott’s could be said to have led to her “becoming Louisa May Alcott”.

Similar to the start of the Dickens phenomenon with The Pickwick Papers being published under the name of “Boz”, Alcott gained her first bout of fame with this work, writing under the pseudonym of "Tribulation Periwinkle"
...more
Chrissie
I like this because reading about Alcott’s firsthand experiences being a nurse during the Civil War is just plain interesting. How many such accounts written by acclaimed authors could there be? What we are told feels very real and honest. Secondly, I like it because you et a grip on Alcott’s personality. Thirdly, I like it because she weaves in humor. As she states at the end, it is important “to look well after the cheerfulness in life”. Without this attitude a book such as this could easily b ...more
Bill
Chafing at not being able to march off to war because a woman, Alcott decided on her 30th birthday in 1862 to volunteer to be an Army nurse. She served at a hospital in Georgetown for six weeks, caring for casualties of the Battle of Fredericksburg, before contracting typhoid fever.

At the urging of family and friends, she later lightly fictionalized the letters she wrote home describing her experiences, and they appeared to acclaim in newspapers before being collected into this book, which provi
...more
Rachel Aranda
Jun 02, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebooks, owned
Many people don't know about this book, since the one and only Ms. Louisa May Alcott is known more for Little Womenand its sequel Little Men, but for history buffs, of the Civil War especially, this is a must read.

Being a woman permitted to help your fellow beings as a money earning career option when you weren't allowed to before is quite an excitable choice to make. Throughout this book I was told some sad and happy tales of being a Union hospital nurse during the war that divided families, f
...more
Angie Thompson
It's hard to believe this is one of Louisa May Alcott's earliest published works. Over the course of just a few chapters, she had me both laughing out loud at her inimitable humor and sobbing outright at the pathos of her descriptions. The deathbed scene of a man we hadn't met until we knew he was dying affected me as much as those of any of her better-known and loved characters and had me berating her through my tears for breaking down my guard with her hilarious accounts of the preparations fo ...more
Katja
5+ stars & 6/10 hearts. Oh my. I enjoyed this little book so much. It was really hilarious. Louisa May Alcott outdid herself this time. It was all so sarcastic and ridiculous, and yet, it was obvious that there was a foundation of truth and that Nurse Periwinkle was strongly based off Alcott! I don’t agree with everything in this story, but it’s full of sweet anecdotes and little lessons. Definitely a favourite book from one of my favourite authors! 

A Favourite Quote: “[T]hough a stranger, John
...more
El
Most people know Louisa May Alcott's name for Little Women. They may know her name in relation to her father, Bronson Alcott, and his friendship with dudes like Ralph Waldo Emerson and H.D. Thoreau, and the Transcendentalist movement. Not as many people knew she also went to war.

Alcott spent six weeks working as a nurse in Washington, DC during the Civil War. She went home after a nasty bout of typhoid fever, but those six weeks made quite an impression on her. She turned her experiences there i
...more
Duane
Hospital Sketches was published in 1863, early in Alcott's writing career. It is a lightly fictionalized account of her six week service as a nurse at a Georgetown hospital during the Civil War. It is compiled from letters written by Alcott during this time. Her service ended early when she contracted typhoid fever. While this work isn't a great piece of writing, it's an important contribution to the history of the war and life in the hospitals at that time for the patients and the people who ca ...more
Elizabeth
This was a fictional account of Louisa May's time as a nurse during the Civil War. I really enjoyed it. ...more
Jeanette
Louisa May Alcott's fictionalized memoir of her experiences as a nurse in Washington D.C. during the Civil War was both witty and moving.
Her descriptions of her efforts to get to her assigned hospital as well as her living conditions whilst there were humorous., while her descriptions of the her duties and the men she nursed were moving and emotional at times, even if sometimes bordering on the sentimental side.
I found her voice and tone in this short work very different than the tone of her mo
...more
Cynda
Louisa May Alcott wrote this collection of sketches at the request of her friends and encouraged by her father. It was not a labor of love, and it shows. Allow me to clarify: The nursing was a labor of love while the writing of the sketches was not. The writing is uneven, moving from third-rate novelization to fair-to-good memior. The best part is the postcpscript.

The postscript is an open letter to a particular person and to all who have similar questions about the reality of nursing during the
...more
Cynthia
“As no two persons see the same thing with the same eyes, my view of hospital life must be taken through my glass, and held for what it is worth.” ~LMA

I’ve never read anything by Louisa May Alcott before. That’s right. I have not read Little Women. I didn’t have any desire to. It isn’t really a story that appeals to me.

And I wouldn’t have read this one if I hadn’t joined in on a Traveling Book adventure through The Book Drunkard on Facebook. I discovered that I really like Alcott’s writing styl
...more
Susan
Jan 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books
I sought this book out after revisiting Louisa May Alcott’s Eight Cousins And Rose in Bloom. I never got to read these books as a child but always wanted to! I saw that she had written Hospital Sketches, and me being a nurse and enjoy books in the Civil War Era I ordered it through the library. I found it interesting, a little confusing at times, but hey it was written in 1863😊
Leah
Jul 10, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: factual, 2016, biography
Six weeks in a military hospital...

This is a short account of Louisa May Alcott's brief career as a nurse during the American Civil War. She only spent six weeks in the military hospital before falling ill with typhus and being persuaded by her father to come home, but during that time she saw first-hand some of the horrific injuries inflicted on the soldiers and the pretty basic and sub-standard care they got afterwards – in her hospital, at least, though she makes it clear there were other muc
...more
Marian
Feb 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Short fiction written in first person. Adapted from Alcott's own notes and letters during her stint as a nurse in the Civil War. Alcott's voice holds true. At times charming and funny, at times beautifully poetic and almost other-worldly. A couple times in these short pages, I found myself reading and re-reading a passage. In the world of war stories, this is short and probably doesn't rank. But it was compelling nonetheless and I'm glad I read it and I'm glad I own a copy of it. ...more
Marko Vasić
Nov 30, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: classics, documentary
I started to read Noah Gordon's SHAMAN, and in Chapter I, he mentioned that the main character was reading "Hospital Sketches" during his train trip. Thanks to Project Gutenberg, I found the kindle copy of the book, and wanted to read it like some kind of late-afternoon intermezzo. But, I was slightly disappointed with the plot of this short essay-diary. First - the narrative tone is very grumpy in the biggest part of the book. It seems like that young narrator girl is on some crossroad of her l ...more
Margaret
Hospital Sketches describes Alcott's sojourn (cut short due to illness) as a nurse in a Washington, D.C., hospital during the Civil War; it's witty in a rather Dickensian style (Alcott calls herself Tribulation Periwinkle, for example) and touching even though sentimental. I mostly enjoyed it, though I was bothered by Alcott's condescending attitude toward the black people for whose freedom she enthusiastically worked. Although she rejoices at the Emancipation Proclamation, she also clearly ster ...more
Debbie Barton
Dec 31, 2009 rated it really liked it
This was not what I expected but I enjoyed it a great deal. It is unfortunately too short (I knew Ms. Alcott went home after contracting Typhoid Fever, I didn't realize she became ill so quickly after her arrival). Considering she went to a new city, to learn a new job, on the eve of Fredericksburg, and remained less than 2 months, I find it rather impressive that she was able to capture what she did in her letters. I loved that the colloquial style was kept for the book. It's rough and informal ...more
Hannah
Aug 09, 2018 rated it liked it
During the Civil War, Louisa May Alcott became a nurse. She did not stay long, catching Typhoid Fever and having to go home to recover. But the public was very interested in anything war related and so Louisa wrote "Hospital Sketches" which was fiction, but very based on her experiences. The story is short, roughly 85 pages.

There is something about Alcott's style. It is both easy to read and able to get involved in, but it can also feel infantile. I feel like she is trying to do everything in a
...more
Ami Blue
Sep 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Alcott's Hospital Sketches is, in the Bedford edition edited by Alice Fahs, a 6-chaptered memoir of Alcott's half a year spent nursing for the Union Army in Georgetown, outside DC, during the Civil War. I add the disclaimer because Fahs mentions in her introduction that the sixth "chapter" is actually a letter tacked on after the publication of the original five-chaptered Hospital Sketches. And it shows. I didn't shudder or cringe at anything Alcott wrote in those first five chapters even though ...more
Becky Loader
Feb 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
How is it that I have never read these?

Alcott was a nurse for about six weeks during the Civil War. Her keen observations of the environmental conditions in the hospitals and her heartfelt concern for the wounded combine for a powerful depiction of a specific time and place.
Erica
Dec 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Outstanding! Her wit and humor are a good foil against the utter horror of the aftermath of war. Very short and sweet.
Patricia
Feb 11, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Alcott spent six weeks as a nurse during the Civil War until she was forced to return home because of illness. These sketches were originally letters published in a Boston newspaper but they have been presented here as fiction based on her experiences. Apparently the horrors of what she saw never left her but the opening chapters at least have an inappropriate tone, arch and playful and girly, and it is hard to see under them what it was really like. This tone may have been what was required by ...more
Pamela
Dec 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
After briefly serving as a nurse in a hospital in Washington, D. C., Louisa May Alcott returned to her home in Massachusetts and wrote a series of essays which were published in the newspaper Commonwealth. She was only active for approximately 6-8 weeks before she got sick and was advised to go home. These essays relate the things she saw and did in that short time.

The tone is, oddly, very lighthearted considering the subject matter. However, Miss Alcott said of herself that she preferred
to app
...more
Luckngrace
Jan 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
Louisa May Alcott her short-lived experiences as a nurse in a makeshift Yankee hospital to convey her thoughts and feelings as well as some of her patients' travails. The book seems to me to (maybe) be a speech or report on her efforts during the war. I found that, although the book is very short (80 pages), the first quarter was unnecessary with minute detail. I did, however, respond tearfully to some of the soldiers' brave and selfless stories of dying in sad inglorious circumstances. I found ...more
Mary Alice
Hospital Sketches is an interesting look at a short period of Louisa May Alcott's life, that spent in Washington DC nursing Civil War soldiers. Alcott spent about 3 months working in a hospital, where she became so ill herself that her father came to bring her home. Alcott uses the somewhat didactic, preachy style she used for her children's books.

Not only an account of Alcott's hospital and patients, the book also describes some of her Civil War rambles in DC during her off duty time.

The book
...more
Graham
Sep 14, 2020 rated it liked it
A concise brief account of nursing in late 1862 and the travails that accompanied volunteer women who joined “the fight” with equal vigor as men in the Civil War. Alcott’s wit and smart allusion make her a quintessential 19th century classic whom we are fortunate to receive such an early publication from on a historical subject that begs such talented narrators. My copy was from the John Harvard Library, 1960, with a fantastic contextual introduction almost as long as the core text.
At times, i
...more
Deb
Jan 16, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010-books-read
After seeing the PBS American Masters presentation on Louisa May Alcott, I downloaded Hospital Sketches on my Kindle. I'd read all the usual LMA books - Little Women, Little Men, Jo's Boys, Eight Cousins, Rose in Bloom, etc. but hadn't ever read this one. It's a thinly-disguised fictional account of LMA's nursing experiences in a Washington, DC Civil War hospital. Alcott's writing style is all Jo - earnest, engaging, enthusiastic, a bit preachy, and very detailed. I enjoyed it! ...more
Kristi
Jun 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful short piece, recollecting Alcott's service as an Army nurse during the Civil War in a fictional sketch. Blending social reform, human pathos, and Alcott's signature hilarity, this is a wonderful read. Alcott combines the comical and emotional in a satisfying, affective blend, successfully bringing the experience of war to the home front, and notably from the perspective of a woman at the front-lines of a military hospital. ...more
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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
...more

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