As I read Little Women this week, I couldn’t help but dog-ear a few pages of the book that still touch my heart. What a beautiful story Louisa May Alcott wrote. Even if she didn’t like it much herself.
Her father, a writer, had met with a publisher regarding his own work. When Louisa’s name came up (a young writer of essays at the time), the publisher asked if Louisa might consider writing a book for girls. So she did…reluctantly.
Little Women was published in 1868.
Anyway, here a few random passages that are so very sweet and oh, so brilliantly written:
The clocks were striking midnight and the rooms were very still as a figure glided quietly from bed to bed, smoothing a coverlid here, settling a pillow there, a pausing to look long and tenderly at each unconscious face, to kiss each with lips that mutely blessed, and to pray the fervent prayers which only mothers utter. As she lifted the curtain to look out into the dreary night, the moon broke suddenly from behind the clouds and shone upon her like a bright, benignant face, which seems to whisper in the silence, “Be comforted, dear soul! There is always light behind the clouds.”
And then there’s of course:
Simple, sincere people seldom speak much of their piety; it shows itself in acts rather than in words, and has more influence than homilies or protestations. Beth could not reason upon or explain the faith that gave her courage and patience to give up life, and cheerfully wait for death. Like a confiding child, she asked no questions, but left everything to God and nature, Father and mother of us all, feeling sure that they, and they only, could teach and strengthen heart and spirit for this life and the life to come.
Beth March is an angel.
And Jo March is the perfect heroine.
I love the way Jo speaks about her own writing. When Mrs. March questions Jo about her plans to go to New York and work for Mrs. Kirke she speaks so openly — with words we often feel like blurting out ourselves:
I want something new. I feel restless and anxious to be seeing, doing, and learning more than I am. I brood too much over my own small affairs, and need stirring up, so as I can be spared this winter, I’d like to hop a little way and try my wings.
Then Mrs. Marsh asks, “But your writing?”
Jo answers, “All the better for the change. I shall see and hear new things, get new ideas, and even if I haven’t much time there, I shall bring home quantities of material for my rubbish.”
Ha! I love Jo March.
(Favorite heroines: Elizabeth Bennet; Jane Eyre; Lily Bart; Anne Elliot; Jo March)