Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Little Women Comparison Post, of a Rather Different Nature

When I wrote my previous post on Little Women I had intended to include another set of comparisons, but apparently my mind was still under the effects of the terrible malady, for I wrote the entire post without once remembering my secondary aim, viz. to show the similar nature between Little Women and The Penderwicks series (considered as one book for the purposes of this post).

(Spoilers for The Penderwicks are in green, spoilers for Little Women are in dark red. Spoilers for both are in black.)

To begin with, the story features four sisters. These four sisters have only one parent around at the beginning of the story, but by the conclusion they have two ( Mr. March returns home, and *SPOILER* Mr. Penderwick remarries). *End SPOILER*
Both the Penderwicks and the Marches live in Massachusetts!

Not all of the sisters match up exactly with their counterparts in age, but there are some similarities:

  • The eldest sister is practical. Her name is long (Margaret in Little Women, Rosalind in The Penderwicks), but her family often calls her something short (Meg in Little Women, Rosy in The Penderwicks)
  • The second oldest sister is rather a tomboy and pretty stubborn and feisty (Skye in The Penderwicks, Jo in Little Women). 
  • One of the sisters is a prolific writer (Jane, the second youngest in The Penderwicks, Jo in Little Women). 
  • One sister is artistic and beauty loving (Jane in The Penderwicks, Amy in Little Women). 
  • Another is very shy of strangers, sweet, piano-playing and music-loving (Batty, the youngest in The Penderwicks, and Beth in Little Women - hey, both of their names begin with "B" and are nicknames for Elizabeth). Both are animal lovers, too.
  • They are all pretty close, but the two middle sisters (Sky and Jane,  Jo and Beth) are closest to each other, and the eldest and youngest (Rosalind and Batty, Meg and Amy) are closest to each other. 

Then we have the clincher: Laurie/Jeffrey. In the beginning of both stories, the girls meet a boy who comes from a rich family but is lonely. He loves music. They informally adopt him as a brother and he is adored by all the sisters. He has only one parental figure (Jeffrey in The Penderwicks has a mother, Laurie in Little Women has his grandfather), who does care about him but doesn't understand him very well and can be stern (Mrs. Tifton is a lot stricter and more snooty than Mr. Laurence, however).
*Spoiler!! You may know this about LW and could guess it in reading TP but be warned!* Laurie/Jeffrey (Lauffrey? Jaurie?) falls in love with Jo/Skye, or fancies himself in love anyway. Jo/Skye (Jye? Sko?) can't see him as anything but a dear brother. Laurie ends up marrying the baby of the family, Amy, who has loved him since childhood. There is one more Penderwick book, which Jeanne Birdsall is currently writing, and I can't help guessing that Jeffrey will marry the baby of the Penderwick family, too: Batty. This is merely conjecture, but do look at this quote from the first book, after Jeffrey had rescued Batty:
"As I was saying [said Mr. Penderwick], in some cultures it's believed that when a person saves someone from death, he or she forever owns a part of that someone's soul. So Jeffrey is now linked to our family whether he likes it or not."
"That's kind of romantic," said Jane.
"Romantic, schmomantic. What the heck would Jeffrey do with Batty's soul?" said Skye.
Batty opened her eyes sleepily. "He could marry me," she said.
"Marry you!" Jane and Rosalind laughed while Skye fell off her chair and rolled around the floor like Hound when his back itched.
What do you think?

Plus, neither the Marches nor the Penderwicks call their mother "Mom" or "Mother": the Marches generally use "Marmee" and the Penderwicks use " Mommy" or *SPOILER* Ianthe. *END SPOILER* Okay, maybe I'm stretching the similarities a little. ;)

There are some differences, of course: as mentioned, Mrs. Tifton is several degrees more unpleasant than Laurie's grandfather. *SPOILER* Rosalind doesn't marry Jeffrey's tutor and have twins, like Meg (as far as we know). And neither Jane (Beth's counterpart in age) or Batty (Beth's counterpart in personality) die. *END this SPOILER, begin THIS SPOILER* In the third Penderwick book, they acquire two more siblings, unlike LW. *END ALL SPOILERS* The Penderwicks are not rich (with a college professor's salary??), but they aren't so poor as the Marches. Obviously (or not so obviously), LW is in the civil war era while TP is modern. TP involves animals more directly than LW. Both sets of sisters get into scrapes, but the Penderwicks get into more, and the March sisters' scrapes are more social awkwardities than problems such as losing people/creatures or making a terrible mess in other people's houses.

These things are quite minor in comparison to the similarities, in my humble opinion. I conclude, that if TP was not based on LW, it is very coincidentally close in characters and setting. I heartily recommend both!
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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Bookshelf Tour Tag

I have been tagged! I love being tagged, by the way. This particular tag is a Bookshelf Tour Tag, started by LoverofLembas, at Lover of Lembas.

The rules are:
  • Once you are tagged, copy and paste the image above into your new post.
  • Show readers your book shelf and explain what books are on there.  Pictures are always fun!
  • Tag as many other people as you want and copy-paste these instructions onto your post so they know exactly what to do.
  • Make sure to leave a link to your post on the site you were tagged.

So! Here is the very small bookshelf in my bedroom:

It's actually an end table but it works quite as well, for the present time.

The top of the shelf is what I call my "display of honor" because it contains (from left to right) Lord of the Rings, a nice hardbound Brother's Grimm collection, and my six Penguin Classics Edition books: Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Northanger Abbey. These books on top are some of my favorites that I own.
Just below, however...
There is A Dance with Jane Austen, which has practically all you need to know about dances in the Regency period (I haven't quite finished it, as you might note if you see my bookmark in there, but I find it very interesting). Next, The Words of Jane Austen, from my oldest sister, and then two Agatha Christie novels (Murder on the Orient Express and The Mysterious Affair at Styles), then the last two books of the Dragon Keeper Chronicles by Donita K. Paul. Then we have The Gammage Cup and The Whisper of Glocken, two witty fantasy books that make up a tiny series by Carolyn Kendall. The third, sixth, and seventh Harry Potter books are next, and we finish with The Hobbit and The Unfinished Tales of Middle Earth.
Below the vertical books on the left is a falling-apart collection of Jane Austen's six novels (which I keep only for Persuasion, really, as I own the others), and on the right is Mansfield Park (Jane Austen) and the two volumes of Gail Carson Levine's Princess Tales.

The bottom level of the bookshelf is really the carpet, but who cares?
The far left stack has The Wide-Awake Princess and The Frog Princess by E. D. Baker, The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope, The Rumplestiltskin Problem by Vivian Van Velde (what an awesome name!), and The Lamb Among the Stars series (minus the first book because it's on loan to a friend).
In the middle I have three books I read for school and one I haven't read at all (guess which one?).
H. G. Well's The Invisible Man, Marcus Zusak's The Book Thief, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird.

Lastly we have Stepping Heavenward (which is a good book but one I haven't read for a long while), the second and third books of the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, and the four Dragons in Our Midst books.
(I'm noticing a theme here, of crusty old novels and dragons).

The end table has a little pocket on each side. The left one (above) has six books from the Grandma's Attic series, that I have collected. I took the books from the right one and photographed them separately, below. The Princess and the Goblin and The Princess and the Curdie, by George MacDonald, and the first two Green Knowe books by L. M. Boston.

Bonus — I took a picture of the shelf above my clothes in my closet, where I keep my devotional books plus some other random things. Left to right is Divine Design, Writing MagicKisses from Katie, Beautiful Outlaw, Girls with Swords (a workbook, actually, which I'm ashamed to say has nothing written in it), Captivating, Paper Doll, The Languages of Tolkien and Middle EarthUncompromising, Walking with Frodo, Walking Through the Wardrobe, Walking with Bilbo, Live Life on PurposeMere Christianity, Life in 6 Words, Kate Greenaway's Language of Flowers and Kate Greenaway's Birthday Book, then a bunch of journals, and finally Tolkien The Illustrated Encyclopedia. There are far too many titles in that sentence to give authors for all of them, so look them up if you're interested. :) I will say that I highly recommend Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis, Captivating and Beautiful Outlaw by John Eldrege, Live Life on Purpose by Claude Hickman, and Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis. And the language of flowers is just super cool (so are the two Tolkien books, I might add).
Oh? You noticed I skipped two after Divine Design? Well, those happen to be two copies of a book I had printed at, containing three fairy tale rewritings of my own invention (if you have any writings you'd like in hardcopy, let me tell you Lulu is VERY cheap. I printed one for both my grandmas and thought I'd get two for myself while I was at it).
The poster behind is from a play I was in (actually I was in the play on the top half, which you can't really see ;P )
I tag:

Thanks for the idea, Lover of Lembas!
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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Bookish Tags

Obviously I'm mostly just thinking about books these days, because I'm doing two book-themed tags (the second to follow in the next few days) and then another post concerning Little Women.
I've been reading a fair amount lately, so I think it kind of makes sense. ;) Wuthering Heights is going well so far; I also just read Dear Mr. Knightley, after hearing it recommended multiple places. I can see why some people like it, but I can't give a recommendation, for I wasn't fond of the characters and there was some minor content.

But! Onto the tag! This is from Carrie at Reading to Know.

1. Do you remember the first book you read or really liked?
I don't remember the first I could read myself, but I know as a child I tortured my mother by asking her to reread this picture book:

I mean, it's about a family of dinosaur-ish creatures that clean up a pond by recycling and re-using and create a really cool car that includes a bath tub and a swing set. What's not to love?!

2. How did your love for reading come about (grew up in a reading family, a certain book captivated you, etc.)?
I definitely grew up in a reading family. My mom read Little House in the Big Woods and The Magician's Nephew to us at a very young age (I think I was maybe five) and continued all the way through both series. There were very few lunchtimes where we didn't read something (or in more recent years, I read and eat by myself).

3. What is your favorite genre to read?
Definitely "classics" — fiction from the late 18th and early 19th centuries, mainly. I also love historical fiction and some fantasy (fairy tales).

4. What genre do you avoid reading?
Modern Young Adult novels. Ugh.

5. What is your favorite movie based on a book?
Probably The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, but The Giver was an amazing adaption of the book.

6. What's your least favorite movie based on a book?
Peter Jackson's the hobbit (notice the lack of capital letters in that title, and the fact that I don't associate Tolkien's name with it).

7. What is your favorite time and place to read?
In the corner of my bedroom, in the afternoon sunlight patch on the floor.

8. Are you in any "real life" book clubs or discussion groups?
Not currently.

9. How many bookcases do you have?
Five tall ones, at least two small ones, and a library cart filled with current books for school.

10. What is a favorite quote about books of from a book?

On that note, I conclude.
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Saturday, February 6, 2016

Classics Challenge: Little Women

Well, I have finished the first month in the 12 Months Classics Challenge, which for me, was reading Little Women. I finished on February the second, actually, and fully intended to start Wuthering Heights that day, and write this Little Women post on Friday or so. ..... Except on Tuesday I got the flu, meaning that, although I had quite a lot of reading time over the past few days, the only thing I had energy to read was light fluffy stuff, not a "classic I've always dreading reading". (I also spent quite a lot of time watching season two of Downton Abbey, which I've decided is fun and is perfect for when you literally don't have the energy to leave your bed all day or even have energy to read, but not worth my time when I'm not sick, as it is really a veiled soap opera.)
However, Wuthering Heights appears to be a little shorter than Pride and Prejudice, which I can read in a week or less, so there ought to be no troubles finishing it in the month of February, even if I don't get started until tomorrow. We will have a lot of time in the car tomorrow so I should be able to get a little ways into it.
Little Women was illustrated by May Alcott.

To get back to Little Women, I have decided not to do an official "review" for the books I chose for the Classics Challenge (unless I have a very contrary-to-normal opinion about it and feel I must review it for all the world to understand). If someone needs a summary, it's an easy thing to do to find a summary of a classic book online, and finding a list of objectional elements is also easy, so I don't feel the need to provide either of those.  I'm planning to do a post on each one (and I will mention at the end if I recommend this book or not), but not in a review form. What that form will be will depend on the book. For Little Women, I'm doing a comparison post. I love reading historical fiction and "true" stories, but I always wonder how true it really is. After reading a book/watching a movie of this type, I therefore usually do some internet scouring and try to sleuth out the actual story. As I thought the comparisons between the March's story and the Alcott's real lives to be really interesting, I'm sharing them here in this handy-dandy chart.

Basic Plot
Four daughters in a poor family living in the Civil War era; they do their best to be good while enduring many troubles, large and small, in their familiar, comfortable home.
There were four daughters, and the Alcott family was even poorer than the Marches. The girls growing up years were a little before the civil war. They moved frequently, even spending seven months in a transcendentalist commune started by Mr. Alcott.

Meg and Jo like to act plays together.
Anna and Louisa liked to write and act plays together also. Anna especially loved to act, and she fell in love with her husband after acting opposite him in a play.
Mrs. March is beloved by her girls, hardworking and patient.
Abigail May Alcott seems to be all that Marmee was to the March girls.
Mr. March has gone to be a chaplain in the war. He is admired by his “little women” and, while Marmee is the queen of the household, he is their anchor and foundation as he seeks raise all his children wisely and has a special relationship with each.
In some respects Mr. Amos Bronson Alcott’s principles did guide and shape the family (such as taking them all to the Fruitlands commune), but he wasn’t quite the admirable figure from Little Women. He was not a bad father, but he valued his principles above his well-being, which naturally hurt his family’s well-being. He did a poor job of caring for his family and may have tended to laziness. The rest of the family did not want to try the fruitlands experiment and Mrs. Alcott threatened to move herself and the girls away, at one point.
Meg March
Meg is the eldest, a little vain and bossy, but practical and loving. She earns money for the family by governessing.
Anna Bronson Alcott seems to be pretty much Meg.

(SPOILER ALERT) Meg marries John Brook, Laurie’s tutor. They have two twins (Daisy and Demi) and a little girl, Josie.
Anna married John Pratt and had two sons. Fun fact, the description of Meg’s wedding in the book is an actual description of Anna’s wedding at Orchard House. Unfortunately John died after only ten years of marriage, and Anna and her two boys moved in with Louisa, Lulu, and her father.
 Jo March
Jo is a writer. She used “sensation stories” to care for her family but grew ashamed of this and wrote better stuff.
Louisa was indeed a writer (big surprise there, major spoilers, I know). She used short stories and poetry, along with sensational novels (under a penname) to take care of her family also, until she wrote Little Women and its sequels. She also wrote quite a lot of other novels.

Jo earns money even in her early teenage years by reading to Aunt March, and then by teaching friends of her mother’s in New York.
Louisa earned money as a governess, seamstress (both she and Jo were the dressmakers of the family) and domestic helper. She was also a nurse for six weeks in the civil war (she would have stayed longer but contracted typhoid).

(SPOILER ALERT) Jo marries Friederick Bhaer and has tons of boys (some biological) and has a school of sorts.
Louisa never married. She died at age 55, at home, of a stroke.
Beth March
Beth is the peacemaker of the family, the quiet, contented sister.
Elizabeth Sewell “Lizzie” Alcott seems to be very similar to Beth, except she doesn’t seem to have been quite as scared of society.

(SPOILER ALERT) Beth contracts scarlet fever helping a poor German family. She never recovers her strength and dies within a few years.
Lizzie also contracted scarlet fever in this way, and died within two years of her illness (age twenty-two).
Amy March
Amy March is an artist from an early age, but does not make a living from it.
Abigail May Alcott was also an artist. She taught art (including art therapy, interstingly enough) for a few years in the early 1860s.

Amy goes to Europe with an aunt to travel and study art.
May also went to Europe, three times (1870, ‘73 and ‘77) with the funding from Louisa’s book.

(SPOILER ALERT) Laurie falls in love with Amy in Europe (she’s always loved him) and they marry there. They come back and live in Laurie’s rich house. They have one frail daughter, Beth.
May met her husband Ernest Nieriker in London, 1877, and they married the next year, in London (she was 38, he 22!). Her husband was not rich, but supported her art and worked hard (tobacco merchant and violinist!). They moved to Paris, where May primarily lived after her marriage.
They had one daughter, Louisa May Nieriker (“Lulu”), who was raised by Louisa Alcott, as May died within two months of her daughter’s birth.
Theodore Laurence
Laurie is the adopted son and brother of the March family.
Laurie did not exist. :(

BUT, Louisa did base him on two different friends of hers:
Alf Whitman, whom she met in, and was friends with all her life (she wrote him letters and called him “Dolphus” because they’d acted together in a play where he played “Dolphus”). Also Ladislas “Laddie” Wisnieski, a Polish man she met in Europe and had a brief, but close relationship with as she stayed in Europe. He was a prankster and a piano player.
Both boys were younger than her, and she felt very motherly towards them, just like Jo does towards Laurie.

If this interests you to look further, I suggest looking up Louisa's writings on being a Civil War nurse, the family's time at Fruitlands, and Amos Alcott's educational methods as I found all three subjects fascinating.

I really liked Little Women. I definitely want to read it again, and, when I have time, to read Little Men and Jo's Boys. There were many great quotes from the book, several of which which unfortunately I read over and couldn't find again, either in my copy or on GoodReads. Here are a few I did find:


Now and then, in this workaday world, things do happen in the delightful storybook fashion, and what a comfort that is.


[spoken by Marmee, to her eldest girls] "I'd rather see you poor men's wives, if you were happy, beloved, contented, than queens on thrones, without self-respect and peace."


[C]hildren should be children as long as they can.


[spoken by Marmee, to Meg, after Meg has married and had twin babies] "Go out more, keep cheerful as well as busy, for you are the sunshine-maker of the family, and if you get dismal there is no fair weather."
(I liked that one because it expresses very well how the mother is really the hub of every household. If she isn't happy, no one else is either.)


For with eyes made clear by many tears, and a heart softened by the tenderest sorrow, she recognized the beauty of her sister's life — uneventful, unambitious, yet full of the genuine virtues which 'smell sweet and blossom in the dust', the self-forgetfulness that makes the humblest on earth remembered soonest in heaven, the true success which is possible to all.

Do I recommend this book, and to whom? I definitely recommend Little Women to males and females of all ages. I think it would make a good read-aloud to children but would be more appreciated by age 10 and up.
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