Housekeeping ain’t no joke


Alcott House - A happy home, with plenty of food in the larder

“Mother isn’t sick, only very tired, and she says she is going to stay quietly in her room all day, and let us do the best we can. It’s a very queer thing for her to do, she don’t act a bit like herself; but she says it has been a hard week for her, so we mustn’t grumble, but take care of ourselves.”

“That’s easy enough, and I like the idea; I’m aching for something to do — that is, some new amusement, you know,” added Jo, quickly.

In fact it was an immense relief to them all to have a little work, and they took hold with a will, but soon realized the truth of Hannah’s saying, “Housekeeping ain’t no joke.” There was plenty of food in the larder, and, while Beth and Amy set the table, Meg and Jo got breakfast; wondering, as they did so, why servants ever talked about hard work.

by Louisa May Alcott (November 29, 1832 – March 6, 1888)
from Little Women or, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy, Volume 1
image – smart destinations

Little Women Make Good

Happy Birthday, Louisa May Alcott!

Louisa May Alcott wrote “Little Women” at the request of her publisher, who was on the hunt for a bestseller for girls. The first volume was published September 30, in 1868, when she was 35 years old.

An instant classic, Alcott’s chronicle of the fictional March family spawned sequels, films, a play, an opera, a musical and Japanese anime. There was even a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, awarded for the 2005 book “March,” a Geraldine Brooks novel about the family patriarch’s experience in the Civil War.

When “Little Women” was published, Alcott already had decades of professional writing experience. She had long dedicated her work to supporting her family. They were a progressive group of Transcendentalists, contemporaries of Emerson and Thoreau. Alcott herself was a strong advocate for women’s issues, which is evident in her female characters’ broad mindedness. They may have been homemakers, but that wasn’t all they were.

“Little Women” books have given generations of young readers female role models, and a peek at sisters crossing into the world of women. My mother presented Louisa May Alcott books to me almost as a right of passage, and I devoured them all. My own daughter was more excited by Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time,” a story about a girl’s journey through space, time, quasi-science and personal discovery.

Is “Little Women” outmoded? Maybe a little. None of the March girls grew up to be doctors, but I’ll bet they’d be proud if their granddaughters grew up to be like Marie Curie or Benazir Bhutto.

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