A long time ago, way back at the end of July, Michelle and her daughter invited me and my daughter to accompany them on a trip pilgrimage to Orchard House, the home of Louisa May Alcott, in Concord, MA. While she did not live there growing up, it was where she wrote the book Little Women and where she chose to set the events of the story.
Michelle and I have, of course, read Little Women, and both of our daughters were about halfway through the book at the time of our trip pilgrimage. It was one of the books I loved when I was younger, and I hesitate to even take a stab at how many times I’ve read it. It has meant a lot to me, and I think I can even say that it was been a strong influence in my life.
There was, however, a time when I was embarrassed by my love of Little Women and probably wouldn’t have included it in a list of top ten books. Nevertheless, my old and well-worn copy has traveled with me from bedroom to dorm room to apartment to home and sat in prominent display on each of my book shelves. I think my embarrassment might have stemmed from the sincerity of the story and the characters and the values. We live in a more jaded time, and our self-awareness (and maybe our literature) can be more ironic and less genuine. But I still read Little Women now the way I did when I was eleven years old—with complete sincerity—and I think that’s the best and most honest way to approach the book.
There is lot that can be said about Louisa May Alcott, her life, her heroines, and Jo March in particular. I think I’m going to save all of that for another post—or for Michelle. I’m going to end this with a few pictures.
This first one is Michelle and the girls in front of Orchard House. No photos were allowed inside the house, but if you’ve ever seen the film version with Katherine Hepburn as Jo, then you know almost exactly what it looks like. And if you haven’t, you can still get a pretty excellent idea from the book itself. I found it remarkably moving to be in the house because I recognized so much of it from my countless re-reads!
And here are a couple of pictures of Louisa May Alcott: