Thursday, 11 January 2018

Louisa May Al-Quotes (Good Wives by Louisa May Alcott)
"She preferred imaginary heroes to real ones, because when tired of them, the former could be shut up in the tin kitchen till called for, and the latter were less manageable." - Louisa May Alcott, Good Wives 

It is a fancy of mine that the women of the past were running around behind the men's backs, cackling at their naivety. How else do you explain the inexplicable notion held historically (in the UK) that women had no sexuality? A glance over just one or two of the letters lying on the desks of certain bygone women would have relieved them of this delusion at once, and yet they laboured under it. For all its flaws, Good Wives contains some excellent quotes which show that we women are not so changed from from those who came before us. We've been saying the same things for centuries, after all.

"I'm happy as I am, and love my liberty too well to be in a hurry to give it up for any mortal man." 

"Amy's lecture did Laurie good, though, of course, he did not own it till long afterward. Men seldom do, for when women are the advisors, the lords of creation don't take the advice till they have persuaded themselves that it is just what they intended to do. Then they act upon it, and, if it succeeds, they give the weaker vessel half the credit of it. If it fails, they generously give her the whole."

"Very likely some Mrs Grundy will observe, "I don't believe it, boys will be boys, young men must sow their wild oats, and women must not expect miracles." I dare say you don't, Mrs. Grundy, but it's true nevertheless. Women work a good many miracles, and I have a persuasion that they may perform even that of raising the standard of manhood by refusing to echo such sayings."

I do so love the dry wit of the narration.

Good Wives is not so uplifting as its predecessor, probably because it's about becoming an adult. One of the saddest things about it is watching the girls give up their dreams. Bhaer causes Jo to stop writing, at least for a while, and Amy gives up her dream of being an artist simply because she thinks she'll never measure up to the classical greats.   A quick glance down the reviews on Goodreads will tell you that romance is a huge bone of contention. Personally, I don't think there are many books that are made or broken on the romance. I certainly don't think this is one of them. Would I have liked to see Jo and Laurie get together? Sure, but I don't feel like Amy and Laurie come out of left field. 

My issue is Bhaer.

Not just as Jo's love interest, but as a human being. He's a book snob, simply put. When she meets him, Jo has taken to writing sensation fiction (popular fiction of the day). From Bhaer's reaction, you'd think she was selling maps to the devil.

Jo gets dealt a bad hand in general in this novel. The only person who doesn't seem to want to change her is Laurie. Bhaer has issues with her writing and her speech. Beth wants her to become an entirely different person. By the time she becomes engaged to Bhaer, she's lonely and despondent: "Almost twenty-five, and nothing to show for it." I think that line is the most relatable in the entire book. I can't tell you how many times I've thought, "I've been on this earth for twenty years and achieved nothing."

Good Wives is bittersweet and difficult to read at times, but I think I did enjoy it. There's just something about this little part of 19th century America that is like a cup of hot chocolate on a cold winter's day.

 What's a classic you actually enjoy?