Title: Jo's Boys, and How They Turned Out.
Author: Louisa May Alcott.
Genre: Fiction, literature, Bildungsroman, family saga, romance.
Publication Date: 1886.
Summary: Beginning ten years after Little Men, the book revisits Plumfield, the New England school still presided over by Jo and her husband, Professor Bhaer, and the faits, struggles, loves, and journeys of the original Plumfield crew. Jo's own boys, Rob and Teddy, are almost grown, though still with a perchance for mischief. Professor Bhaer's nephew Franz finds love and occupation in Germany, while Emil becomes a sailor and has his ultimate courage tested when he is ship-wrecked and in command of a scared crew quickly losing morale. Meg's Demi is a serious young man with secret romantic sights of his own, Daisy waits for Nan, who goes to Europe to develop his musical talent (and encounters temptation and sin in his freedom and wealthy companions), against her mother's wishes, and Josie dreams of being an actress, despite her mother's high hopes that she would change her course. Amy's Bess is caught up in art studies, and unknowingly becomes a symbol of hope for a lost soul. Dolly, Stuffy, and George go to college, dealing with the temptations of snobbery, arrogance, self-indulgence and vanity. Nan excels in medicine, and Tommy follows suit in order to win her heart, but the independent girl may be as wrong for him as the medical profession. Finally, Dan seeks his fortune in the West, and ends up committing a crime the price of and the redemption for which he has to earn by losing what matter to him most, and the ordeal of which he only gets through by thinking of a certain innocent lady back home.
My rating: 7/10.
♥ "I'm glad to hear it. I do so like to settle my boys with a good wife and a nice little home. Now, if all is right, I shall feel as if Franz was off my mind," said Mrs Jo, folding her hands contentedly; for she often felt like a distracted hen with a large brood of mixed chickens and ducks upon her hands.
♥ "The female population exceeds the male, you know, especially in New England; which accounts for the high state of culture we are in, perhaps," answered John, who was leaning over his mother's chair, telling his day's experiences in a whisper.
"It is a merciful provision, my dears; for it takes three or four women to get each man into, through, and out of the world. You are costly creatures, boys; and it is well that mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters love their duty and do it so well, or you would perish off the face of the earth," said Mrs Jo solemnly.
♥ The busts were John Brooke and Beth — Amy's work — both excellent likenesses, and both full of the placid beauty which always recalls the saying, that "Clay represents life; plaster, death; marble, immortality".
♥ The fame she never did quite accept; for it takes very little fire to make a great deal of smoke nowadays, and notoriety is not real glory.
♥ As a girl, Jo's favourite plan had been a room where Marmee could sit in peace and enjoy herself after her hard, heroic life. Now the dream had become a happy fact, and Marmee sat in her pleasant chamber with every comfort and luxury about her, loving daughters to wait on her as infirmities increased, a faithful mate to lean upon, and grand-children to brighten the twilight of life with their dutiful affection. A very precious time to all, for she rejoiced as only mothers can in the good fortunes of their children. She had lived to reap the harvest she sowed; had seen prayers answered, hopes blossom, good gifts bear fruit, peace and prosperity bless the home she had made; and then, like some brave, patient angel, whose work was done, turned her face heavenward, glad to rest.
♥ "I don't worry about the girls; Meg sees to them, and is so wise and patient and tender they can't help doing well; but my boys are more care every year, and seem to drift farther away from me each time they go," sighed Mrs Jo. "They will grow up, and I can only hold them by one little thread, which may snap at any time, as it has with Jack and Ned."
♥ They all seemed to feel that life was beginning to grow serious; and even while they enjoyed those lovely summer days together they were conscious that they were children no longer, and often in the pauses of their fun talked soberly of their plans and hopes, as if anxious to know and help one another before they drifted farther apart on their different ways.
♥ "Pin me up, Meg; that dear Dunbar boy has nearly rent me "in sunder", as Mr Peggotty would say. But didn't he enjoy himself, bumping against his fellow men and swinging me round like a mop."
♥ MARY'S DREAM
The moon had climbed the eastern hill
Which rises o'er the sands of Dee,
And from its highest summit shed
A silver light on tower and tree,
When Mary laid her down to sleep
(Her thoughts on Sandy far at sea);
When soft and low a voice was heard,
Saying, "Mary, weep no more for me."
She from her pillow gently raised
Her head, to see who there might be,
And saw young Sandy, shivering stand
With visage pale and hollow e’e.
"Oh Mary dear, cold is my clay;
It lies beneath the stormy sea;
Far, far from thee, I sleep in death.
Dear Mary, weep no more for me.
"Three stormy nights and stormy days
We tossed upon the raging main.
And long we strove our bark to save;
But all our striving was in vain
E'en then, when terror chilled my blood,
My heart was filled with love of thee.
The storm is past, and I'm at rest;
So, Mary, weep no more for me.
"Oh maiden dear, yourself prepare;
We soon shall meet upon that shore
Where love is free from doubt and care,
And you and I shall part no more."
Loud crew the cock, the shadow fled;
No more her Sandy did she see;
But soft the passing spirit said,
"Sweet Mary, weep no more for me."
♥ "My idea is that if we girls have any influence we should use it for the good of these boys, and not pamper them up, making slaves of ourselves and tyrants of them. Let them prove what they can do and be before they ask anything of us, and give us a chance to do the same. Then we know where we are, and shall not make mistakes to mourn over all our lives."
♥ "We'll be kind to you if you will be just to us. I don't say generous, only just. I went to a suffrage debate in the Legislature last winter; and of all the feeble, vulgar twaddle I ever heard, that was the worst; and those men were our representatives. I blushed for them, and the wives and mothers. I want an intelligent man to represent me, if I can't do it myself, not a fool."
♥ "I believe in suffrage of all kinds. I adore all women, and will die for them at any moment if it will help the cause."
"Living and working for it is harder, and therefore more honourable. Men are always ready to die for us, but not to make our lives worth having. Cheap sentiment and bad logic."
♥ Dan looked at the little picture of the young man with horse and hound going bravely up the rocky defile, accompanied by the companions who ride beside most men through this world.
♥ At ten she solemnly arrayed herself, and then sat looking at her neat gloves and buckled shoes till it was time to go, growing pale and sober with the thought that her fate was soon to be decided; for, like all young people she was sure that her whole life could be settled by one human creature, quite forgetting how wonderfully Providence trains us by disappointment, surprises us with unexpected success, and turns our seeming trials into blessings.
♥ But of all the lessons Mrs Jo had tried to teach her boys, this great one was the hardest; for love is apt to make lunatics of even saints and sages, so young people cannot be expected to escape the delusions, disappointments, and mistakes, as well as the delights, of this sweet madness.
♥ "Yes; but they don't thrill me as little Charlotte Brontë's books do. The brain is there, but the heart seems left out. I admire, but I don't love, George Eliot; and her life is far sadder to me than Miss Brontë's, because, in spite of the genius, love, and fame, she missed the light without which no soul is truly great, good, or happy."