“Open this now,” she said when she arrived at my house to find me, for the sixth day in a row, picking up Christmas decorations the cats have knocked off the tree and designated as their toys. “It will put you in the Christmasy mood.”
It took 20 minutes to cut through the layers of tape and unwind the contents from mummy wrappings of brown paper and bubble wrap. Inside were nestled four hand-painted porcelain Little Women figurines, designed by Tasha Tudor and manufactured by Franklin mint. In order of appearance in the DIY photo above are Beth with kittens, Jo holding a book, Amy sketching, and Meg sewing.
As Megan said, “It makes me want to play dolls.”
Instead, we just rearranged them in different groupings.
I have long been a fan of Louisa May Alcott, as readers of this blog may or may not remember. (I myself have trouble remembering where I read what online.) Anyway, my favorite Alcott is An Old-Fashioned Girl, which I wrote about here. I posted about Eight Cousins here; and spent a lot of time musing on a strange TLS review of Beverly Lyon’s excellent book, The Afterlife of Little Women, here.
Although I do not have a large Alcott collection, I photographed the six books of hers I found on the shelves. This is a blogger kind of photoshoot, is it not?
My first copy of Little Women was an adapted version, which I no longer have, alas, purchased at the supermarket when I was seven. Later I was given a Junior Illustrated Classic, with the complete text. I longed to whistle tomboyishly with my hands in my pockets, and cry out, “Christopher Columbus” and “capital!” like Jo. I also wanted to be a writer. And I loved the way Jo cares nothing for fashion, or inky pinafores.
Every few weeks she would shut herself up in her room, put on her scribbling suit, and “fall into a vortex,” as she expressed it, writing away at her novel with her heart and soul, for till that was finished she could find no peace. Her “scribbling suit consisted of a black woolen pinafore on which she could wipe her pen at will, and a cap of the same material, adorned with a cheerful red bow, into which she bundled her hair when the decks were cleared for action. This cap was a beacon to the inquiring eyes of her family, who during these periods kept their distance, merely popping gin their heads semi-occasionally, to ask, with interest, “Does genius burn, Jo?”
After my first reading of Little Women, I checked out all the Alcotts I could find from the library: Eight Cousins, Rose in Bloom, Under the Lilacs, and Jack and Jill, to name a few.
I began to acquire my “adult editions’ of Alcott about a decade ago. When Library of America published a collection of Little Women, Little Men, and Jo’s Boys in 2005, I reread these entertaining, witty classics. In 2014 LOA published a second Alcott edition, comprised of Work (known as the adult Little Women), Eight Cousins, Rose in Bloom, Stories & Other Writings.
I strongly recommend The New York Public Library edition of An Intimate Anthology, a collection of Alcott’s stories, diary entries, letters, and verse, including Transcendental Wild Oats, about life in her father’s commune, and Hospital Sketches, a fictional account of her experiences as a Civil War nurse. And, as I have mentioned, An Old-Fashioned Girl is my favorite of Alcott’s books.
What is your favorite Alcott book?
Now I just want to sit here and admire my figurines some more.