Sunday, January 07, 2007

Louisa May Alcott

I have long loved Louisa May Alcott as an author. I've been reading her books for as long as I can remember. Way back into grade school years, I was reveling in the stories of Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy along with Rose and Polly, Jack and Jill, and all the rest. As I got older, I was introduced to the "other" LMA books: Moods, Work, and her more sensational works. And within the past few years, some of her very early stories have been republished as single books. I have read all of them and enjoyed them equally as well...albeit differently from the beloved books.

Having lived in Massachusetts for most of my life, and much of that time within 20 minutes of Orchard House, I have visited the place numerous times. What I appreciate about it is that the tour is never the same. They are always changing it up, depending on the time of year and the audience. It's one of my favorite places to take friends who are readers.

Recently (December 29), I visited Orchard House with my cousin Penelope and her daughter Zoe. What fun it was to go through a place quite familiar to me with a young girl, new to Little Women! Zoe was so interested in the tour, asking a number of "good questions" and just enjoying the experience of being in a place she'd read about. I loved that!

As usual, the gift shop snared me and I was forced to buy yet another Alcott book, this time the definitive biography written by Madeline Stern more than 50 years ago. Now, I thought I knew a lot about the Alcotts in general and Louisa in particular. But from the get-go, I was learning all kinds of new things. For example, I had no idea that the family lived in other places in Harvard/Still River besides Fruitlands. I did not know that Louisa loved to play on Bare Hill Pond, a place I once knew well myself!

I'm not saying that I'm star-struck about having walked where she walked, having gone swimming where she and her family had...quite possibly from the exact place I did, back in my early college years. Not exactly. But I am...well, surprised. One of my favorite places to watch a sunset is Prospect Hill, a place she, too delighted in.

My discovery today, in trying to research the Still River days, was that Jack and Jill is set there in Harvard/Still River!!! Now, I have to go back and read that book with my own visual context for it. When I read it as a child, I still lived in Ohio and had no real-life setting to place the story in. Now I do. I expect the experience to be quite different!


Sandy said...

I have *Little Women* DVD saved for the right time to watch it with my 10 year old dtr. I can't wait! Beautiful blog.

Evansita said...

I love Louisa May Alcott! Sorry I have been so bad about keeping up. Things have been crazy since I am just trying to get settled here. But I will write more soon!