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C. M. Hebert does her usual excellent job narrating these stories which end too soon. From "May Flowers" I learned a great deal about struggling shop girls, ordinary workers and even street con artists. L.M. Alcott paints the tough life in cities of the America of the 1800's as if she lived that life. Her brush strokes are fine and her colors vivid. How the group of girls tried to make life better for the poor was quite amusing at times. "An Ivy Spray and Ladies' Slippers" is a good Cinderella story without the evil stepmother although there are some thoughtless friends. Two sisters fall into poverty due to the deaths of their parents. I was struck by the attitudes of some of the well-off young people toward working people in "Water-Lilies". They remind me of trailer park trash types who create big scenes over some minor mistake at the checkout counter. A person who behaves in this way can't be my friend. Any one of these little stories could have been turned into novels including the final three, "Poppies and Wheat", "Little Button-Rose" and "Mountain-Laurel and Maiden-Hair". In one of her books, there is an interesting passage which has been stuck in my mind for years. In a discussion of books and authors, in particular Mary Ann Evans a.k.a. George Eliot's "Romula" Alcott writes "The mind is there but the heart is missing." I've chewed that over wondering what was meant. She and Jane Austen for instance, allow the reader inside her characters' hearts so I think she meant that Evans didn't. The Alcotts belonged to that transplanted German movement called Transcendentalists which is a self improvement program for body and mind, a taking responsibility for every aspect of one's life, what is put into one's mind is as important as what one takes into one's body. This seems to be a recurring theme in this collection and there is a mind and a heart.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
I found this book, particularly the first story, to be saccharine, pedantic, and preachy. It is if it was written to be a morality tale, and is far from being great literature. The characters are not people I would want to spend time with, and they lack depth. Although some of the stories are better than others, I would not recommend this book to anyone, except perhaps preteen romantics who are not opposed to such blatant morality tales.