I can’t think of too many works of fiction that I’ll read at all, let alone read again; but I am continually inspired and encouraged by almost every book I’ve read by Louisa May Alcott.
Thanks to a site I discovered a few years ago that offers a variety of LMA books for online reading, I was finally able to read Little Women in its entirety. And how I laughed and cried as I did! Then I got my own copy and read it again and again — always finding treasures for my own life tucked into the pages.
Little Women read, I turned curiously to some of the other books listed under Louisa Alcott’s name. But while I am thankful for the vast amount of reading material available with a few key strokes in the great world wide web, I am not fond of reading books online, and only skimmed enough to know that I wanted to read more. I finally was able to complete another real book with pages and covers — Louisa May Alcott’s An Old Fashioned Girl — and once again was moved by the depth and simple beauty of the story that it told.
Polly, like the March girls of Little Women, is a real life girl, with real life struggles. The challenges that she faces in the pages of the book aren’t so different from the ones that a girl today might face — that I might face. That is one of the things that makes these stories the treasures they are: how they show imperfections, strengths and weaknesses — and how the striving, struggling, winning and losing molded the life that was lived, just as it does ours today.
As for Polly, she is the sort of friend that every one should have; she had strengths that are the kinds of things I want to be my strengths. She possesses cheerfulness — even in hardship — resourcefulness, consistency, faithfulness, and a sweet, unselfish love that often conquered the weaknesses she had, and kept her from mistakes that she could have made. I found her life, with its challenges and victories, inspiring in a very encouraging sort of way. Tucked into the story, along with the blossoming of love with womanhood, I again found so many beautiful principles of balance and wisdom that are valuable to learn and to practice.
Next year, perhaps I’ll have yet another favorite read and added to my shelf of treasures to share about — and I am already looking forward to it!
But for now, I’ll have fondly tucked my copy of An Old Fashioned Girl on the shelf next to my copy of Little Women. And I know that, too, will be read again, savored and pondered in the days to come. It is one that I hope that you’ll read or re-read, looking for the gold tucked into the pages, hidden amongst the story. And then I hope you’ll live the lessons you glean, just like I hope that I will.
P.S: Speaking of beautiful, old books and of Lousia May Alcott, I’ve seen some treasures slip through the bookshop of our own dear Lanier. If I’m not mistaken, you may find it near impossible to pull yourself away from the long lines of beautiful titles, so many of which seem to be clamoring to find a place in your home. I can assure you it is well worth the time to look, even if you manage to resist a purchase (by pure necessity — it is the only way that one could resist these books, I must admit), just because it is wonderful to imagine so many amazing books all in one place. So indulge in a leisurely stroll through the titles, just because you really must!