Give me books, fruit, french wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors. --John Keats

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Reading in Retrospect: "Under the Lilacs" by Louisa May Alcott

If you're like me, the name Louisa May Alcott brings to mind Little Women and not much else. You may know about Little Men and Jo's Boys (unfortunately I can't remember for sure if I've read one or both of those). But when Under the Lilacs caught my eye at the library a few years ago, it was a delight to find it was authored by Alcott.

This was a sweet little story. I could see why it was not one of Alcott’s better-known classics, but I still enjoyed it. It was a little slow to start but was a pleasant read. At the time, I thought I might recommend it to my book-loving child when she got a little older. I'm glad to be reminded of that thought, because I think she's at the perfect age to read it now.

Mrs. Moss, who has two young daughters named Bab and Betty, is a caretaker for a large old house that has been shut up for some time. They take in young Ben and his dog Sancho who have run away from the circus. Not long after, Miss Celia and her brother Thorny, wealthy orphans, move back in to the house that Mrs. Moss cares for. Everyone is great friends and has grand adventures, like putting on a play (an Alcott staple) or walking to the next town to watch a circus. I can't remember how the book ends, but I have no doubt it was happy, one way or another.

You can download a free e-text copy of this book from Project Gutenberg, or listen to the free audio version from LibriVox. Or borrow it from my local library. I wouldn't call it a must-read for the garden-variety adult reader, and any true Alcott fan is probably already aware of this title, but the little girl in your life might appreciate being introduced to it.


Coffee and a Book Chick said...

I really enjoyed Little Women, and haven't read anything else by her. I'll keep an eye out for this in case I run into it at some point!

Hannah Stoneham said...

I too love LIttle Women but have never heard of this - it sounds like it is worth reading if not quite of the same standing as her more famous work - thanks so much for sharing


Lesa said...

I've read all the Little Women series but never heard of this. What a sweet vintage cover-- I can't resist books like this-- Wonder how rare it is? I'm definitely going to be on the lookout for a copy.

Kathy said...

Looks like I was right in assuming that most people wouldn't have heard of this book! There's another one of Alcott's that I read when I was little called Jack and Jill--I liked that as much as, if not more than, Under the Lilacs (though I'm not sure how much of that is due to the fact that I read it as a child) so if you can't find a copy of this one, you may want to try that one. Maybe some day I'll get around to doing a Nostalgia Post onJack and Jill, but it's been so long since I've read it--I may have to reread first.

Lesa--I am not sure how rare a cute little vintage copy would be, but there is a 1971 version available on paperbackswap right now (no cover pictured, though), along with a 1988 copy with a cover that isn't especially special. There's even a Spanish translation (Bajo las Lilas) available, if you are so inclined!

joemmama said...

This was my favorite childhood book!

Kathy said...

I'm so glad you got to enjoy it as a child! Do you remember how you were first introduced to the book?