Recently orphaned, young Rose Campbell is sent to the "Aunt Hill", where Uncle Alex, her six aunts, and seven boy cousins live in noisy confusion. It is nothing like the quiet girls’ boarding school that has been Rose’s home for the past year. Surrounded by a bewildering array of pets, relatives, and unfamiliar foods, the fragile girl wonders if she will ever get used to this new life. Fortunately, Uncle Alex is her guardian. He keeps the aunts from coddling her too much, and makes sure that she has plenty of time to play outside with her cousins.
Day by day, learning how to care for each of these people, Rose begins to bloom. Eight Cousins is a charming introduction to Louisa May Alcott’s timeless classics, which include Little Women and Little Men. Barbara Caruso’s colorful narration perfectly captures Rose and her extended family.
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Terrific rendition of a beloved children's classic
It is well performed, and it is a book so beautifully written with such appealing content, it stands up very well to being read aloud--which lesser books do not.
The ideas on health and healing, education, and women's role in society expressed by Dr. Alec Campbell are remarkably advanced. He would be very much at home in the company of holistic physicians of the modern world and is a perfect model of a "liberated," feminist male. He is extremely kind, generous, nurturing, and attentive to his sickly, heartbroken, 13-year-old, orphaned niece, Rose, the heroine of this novel.
For readers who enjoy stories rooted in family life, the Campbell clan offers a joyful vision of the many pleasures of being a treasured member of a close-knit, extended family.
There were three favorites: Rose, the 13-year-old heroine; Aunt Plenty, Rose's sixty-something great-aunt, and Pokey, a four-year-old little girl. Ms. Caruso is outstanding with female voices of all ages. However, she does not attempt to do male voices authentically, other than to very slightly deepen and roughen her voice to indicate adult males. To be fair, though, in my personal experience, few female narrators do male voices outstandingly, a notable exception being the late Anna Fields (AKA Kate Fleming).
It made me both laugh and cry. Rose formed important one-on-one relationships with many different relatives and several friends, but the most significant and moving relationships were Rose and Uncle Alec, Rose and the 15-year-old family maid, Phoebe, and Rose and her 15-year-old cousin Mac. I loved the way Uncle Alec encouraged Rose's innate tendency to compassion, and she found frequent opportunities to express her generosity and kindness as she assisted and nurtured Phoebe and Mac.
It was a huge pleasure to re-experience this book, which I so dearly loved in my childhood and shared with my own children, as an audiobook performance. Hearing it narrated by an excellent voice talent greatly enhanced what was already a long-time love affair with this book.
- Kate McMurry
- Jessica Smith