Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Double Duty Thursday's Children & Thanksgiving #3 Blog Hops

What do Thursday's Children and Thanksgiving have in common?
They both happen on Thursdays, of course,
And they both have themes of family (one a family of writer-friends, one the more traditional view of family),
but also...this week they have a Love-Child Blog Post.


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(November 29, 1832 – March 6, 1888)

I know, I know, Louisa May Alcott and "love-child" are really awkward together. 
But I am both inspired by and thankful for Louisa, who wrote about family (see there's a connection).
Why is she inspirational?
Well, of course she was a strong, creative spirit who didn't let 19th century conventions, poverty,
or a wing-nut father (who preached "the sweetness of self-denial") slow her down. 
She was a feminist and an abolitionist, in addition to being a hard-working, prolific and successful author.
She hobnobbed with rock-stars.
Well, the 19th century New England equivalent anyway - Thoreau, Hawthorne, Emerson.

But mostly because Little Women was the first "YA" book I read that made me cry.
And cry. And cry. I simply COULD NOT BELIEVE Beth died.
I knew her. I loved her. How could she be dead?
This is a book I will not reread as an adult. 
I'm afraid it would be uncomfortable.
There's a pretty good chance I'd find Little Women maudlin, and I might laugh at my fragile child-self for having loved it so much. And then all the magic would be gone. 


I still have the book of course. That's it above. It is OLD. The cloth binding is all frayed and the pages are yellowed. This book had seen some hard times long before I ever held it in my hands. God knows how many girls had sobbed over it.
All those tears, sighs, and whispers make it smell wonderful.

Although I admired Jo, she intimidated me the way field hockey girls did (no offense to any field hockey players who might be reading this). Amy was the character who was most like me. Modeled after Louisa's real sister May, she was the youngest in the family, she was artistic, and okay, yes, she was a bit spoiled. Interesting for me personally, Louisa took in May's daughter after May died of childbed fever. Her name was Lulu (also my daughter's name). I didn't know that until I did some research for this post.

The town in Massachusetts where I grew up is not far from Concord, where the Alcotts lived. Here is a photo of Orchard House. It was built in 1690.
My favorite part was the graffiti. Yes! May/Amy drew on the woodwork. 
Such a minx!
Those very real drawings made me feel connected to both the story and its author almost as much as crying buckets over Beth. They held so much more immediacy for me than the carefully cosseted artifacts in the rest of the house.


Orchard House has its own Blog if you're curious to learn more about it.

When I was twelve I had my first fangirl crush on an author. 
I read everything Louisa wrote, and when I'd read all her books, I read them all over again. 
But none of them touched me like Little Women. I can't even remember how many times I read it.

Thank you for making me cry Louisa, and showing me the awesome power of literature. 
And when one of my CPs said my book made her cry no less than three times-I was thrilled (even if she cries easily). 
It's the litmus test for me.
And yes, one of these days I will write something about current authors who inspire me. Promise.

If you'd like to join our weekly Thursday's Children Blog Hop, grab a spot on the Linky List.


And here's the code to use in your own post.
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21 comments:

  1. I knew May had died young, but not that it was of childbed fever. I've been learning about that, since it took its toll on my family as well in the 1700's. Doctors & midwives would visit people sick with scarlet fever and then spread the illness internally while delivering babies. Childbed fever & scarlet fever are both caused by streptococcous virus. So sad and preventable.

    And Fruitlands, where the Alcotts lived- loved visiting it with mom as a kid and i remember that attic room with the girls' drawings (some on slate).

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    1. It is sad. We went to Fruitlands too. Apparently Alden went to bed, turned his face to the wall and basically refused to get up - leaving all the women to "make it work". You can imagine who had some choice words to say about that during our tour.

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  2. I always wanted to be Jo, but I think I'm probably more of a Meg!

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  3. Really, in what way(s)? Looking forward to seeing what you wrote this week.

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  4. I loved Little Women. I read that when I was about twelve and cried and cried. One of my favorites as a kid. Like you, I don't want to re-read it as an adult, because I don't want to ruin my memories of it. Great post

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    1. So glad you stopped by-any chance you're planning to join us this week? Hint. Hint. Nice to know someone else "suffered" the way I did reading that story, lol.

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  5. Awesome stuff, thank you and keep coming with these, will be back again.

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    1. Thank you! And I hope so. Also, you're right, I should read more :)

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  6. I cried like a lunatic while reading Little Women, and like a lot of the people here, I don't want to read it now. I don't want to spoil the memories I have of that book. (Or Bridge to Terabithia which also made me sob every time I read it.) I would *love* to go to Orchard House!

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  7. Hahaha, I am loving all these connections we share. Funny story-one of the "suggested" people for me to follow on Twitter was another female writer. All her profile said was "Hates Little Women". Um, yeah, I'm not following her, lol. Hope to see your post tomorrow ;)

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  8. you know...that is one book i never read. saw the movie though. man, i gotta go back in time and go read it!!

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    1. Yes, wouldn't that be fun-getting to read all the good stuff we somehow missed :)

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  9. I have never read LITTLE WOMEN. *gasp* As an English teacher and YA author, I know this is a serious gap in my education. I have a copy on my bookshelf, but I just haven't gotten around to it yet. It's been on my TBR pile for too long. I vow to get it done in 2013.

    Books that were important to us as children shape us still. Thanks!

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    1. If you read it I'd be interested to know what your (adult) perspective is. I think part of the reason I loved it is that I had only one much older brother-so the idea of a large family and sisters in particular appealed to me. I also fancied waltzing around in long skirts. Grass is always greener.

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  10. Wow, really interesting to hear about these influences on you as you were growing up! Seems like you've taken a TON from all of these books from the past. Very reflective :)

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    1. I think first reading experiences can be extremely powerful, like first "anythings".

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  11. I love old books and their authors! That book looks gorgeous. Thanks for hosting the hop. :)

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    1. My absolute pleasure, I love that new people arrive each week and "old" ones return. And that people can take a week or more off and it's fine - no pressure. Thanks for joining in with your fabulous post ;-)

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  12. I collect old books, I haven't come across an older one for Little Women, but I absolutely adore this novel. I played Beth in a school play, so sad. Of course, I don't know if I did her justice. Thank you for sharing! <3

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  13. Oh, I bet you did do her justice if you loved the book. Thanks for coming by <3 back at you...

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  14. Little Women was one of my fav childhood books too. It wasn't until recently that I learned how much Louisa May Alcott went through before/during the publication of that book. She was truly inspiring.

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