Louisa May Allcott (1832-1888)

Published in 1880, and set in the 1860’s, this much-read classic is a touching, endearing story of the loving Marsh family, comprised of Marmee, the mother, and four daughters (Jo, Meg, Amy, and Beth ). At first blush, the prose seems uninspiring, even plebeian, with a sometimes tedious plot and characters superficially revealed or, if not, shallow and banal, but gradually there emerges the intrigue that all real lives present. As goes the cliche, “Every human life would make one good book,” the author proves this in spades.

She wrote almost entirely in dialogue, interspersed with enlivening descriptions of facial expressions and revealing and realistic dialogue. The author draws the reader into the scenes and conversations, embracing the reader and injecting him or her right into the heartwarming March family. Thus enraptured, the reader swims through the story as a natural extextension of it, rendering it’s characters ever more real and enthralling. The believable plot-line seems more like one’s own childhood or that of acquaintances. Events then emerge, like a gentle eddy, a warm whirlpool of tender childhood emotions, full of kindly ebbs and flows that the reader recalls as reminiscent of the reader’s own youth, or what the reader sees as a real and desirable reflection of what the reader missed and longed to enjoy.

It is, perhaps, even better suited for younger readers, especially pubescent and pre-pubescent girls. As it is so well known and has been the subject of several much-loved movies, it’s worth the time to experience American literature of this perioid.