An Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
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An Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Polly finds out she’s not quite like other girls when she goes to visit her cousins in the city. It may lead to some awkward situations, but perhaps Polly’s differentness will prove not to be such a bad thing in An Old-Fashioned Girl, a coming of age novel by Louisa May Alcott.

Okay, so I’ll confess right out the gate that Alcott’s admission at the beginning of the last chapter ruined the end of the book for me. But as I came to like the characters so much, I can forgive how their creator deals with them in the end.

I enjoyed much of this book’s wording. How the characters speak, and how the author speaks about them, is what most makes these folks a pleasure. On the whole, I like Polly and Tom the best as children. Their dance at the party in Chapter 7 is…well, it’s just flat out cute.

The music struck up, and away they went, Tom hopping one way and Polly the other, in a most ungraceful manner.

“Keep time to the music,” gasped Polly.

“Can’t. Never could,” returned Tom.

“Keep step with me, then, and don’t tread on my toes,” pleaded Polly.

“Never mind. Keep bobbing, and we’ll come right by and by,” muttered Tom, giving his unfortunate partner a sudden whisk, which nearly landed both on the floor.

But they did not “get right by and by”; for Tom, in his frantic efforts to do his duty, nearly annihilated poor Polly. He tramped, he bobbed, he skated, he twirled her to the right, dragged her to the left…

Too many perfectly worded parts and tidbits to name. There’s Polly’s evening of flirtation as a young woman at the opera, the “bitter smile” on her face at the end of it, Tom bending to ask her, “Are you tired, Polly?” to which she answers, “Yes, of being nobody.” There’s Fanny’s observation of Maud that she directs at Polly, saying, “Blessed innocence! Don’t you wish you were a child, and dared tell what you want?”

A rather delightful and old-fashioned read from the author of Little Women.

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A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
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A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

“I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future!” Scrooge repeated, as he scrambled out of bed. “The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me.”

Before he sings such a blessed, spirit-of-the-holiday tune, however, Ebenezer Scrooge is a miserly grump living a lucrative but deplorable and loveless life. But a rather terrifying, painful, and enlightening adventure on Christmas Eve night will help him change his tune in A Christmas Carol, a tale by author Charles Dickens.

Hilarious, touching, altogether delightful–I see why this story is such a classic. Well, not that I haven’t seen it before: I saw a play adaptation at the theater as a child, and the 1951 film adaptation, Scrooge, with Alastair Sim, has become a holiday staple of mine. I’ve long lost count of how many times I’ve watched the film, of which I can now say with confidence that, even with its handful of cinematic departures from the book, Scrooge captures and conveys the spirit of A Christmas Carol quite wonderfully.

Ah, blessed Christmasness.

And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One! THE END

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Note: the text of classic works may sometimes be printed or edited differently in various editions. My copy of A Christmas Carol, the one I’ve quoted from, isn’t the one I have pictured on this blog post. I’ve not read the Puffin Classics edition here; I just used it for the artwork on its jolly cover. 🙂

Henry and Beezus by Beverly Cleary

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
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Henry and Beezus by Beverly Cleary

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Henry Huggins is determined to earn enough money to buy himself a bicycle. Along with the other advantages of his having a set of wheels, maybe it’ll stop that older kid, Scooter, from needlessly showing his bike off so much. Although a neighbor of Henry’s, Beezus Quimby, happens to be a girl, she just may be able to help Henry get a bike of his own in Henry and Beezus by author Beverly Cleary.

I vaguely remember reading this book sometime during my childhood, back when I read other books about Henry and his dog, Ribsy. But I picked it up again since I’ve been revisiting the Ramona Quimby books, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Nothing like reading a tale from the 1950s, where kids say things like “Gee whillikers!” and really mean it. And if I once found this book to be funny, it was even funnier to me this time around. No, not just because somebody says “Gee whillikers!” but because the humor in the story is truly on point. Henry has quite the adventures in his efforts to raise money, and Beezus and Ramona add much to the fun of it all (even though it may not all be “fun” for them, exactly.)

There are a good bunch of reasons why Beverly Cleary was my favorite author as a child. A great story like this one is a good reason.

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Henry and Beezus is the second book in the Henry Huggins series.

Henry Huggins (Henry Huggins, #1) Henry and Ribsy (Henry, #3) Henry and the Paper Route (Henry, #4)

Henry and the Clubhouse (Henry, #5) Ribsy (Henry Huggins)

The Inheritance by Louisa May Alcott

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
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The Inheritance by Louisa May Alcott

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Edith, an impoverished orphan in the bloom of young womanhood, wins the favor of her wealthy friends (and the love of noble Lord Percy) with her kindness and gentle spirit. But when an envious rival, Lady Ida, schemes to rob Edith of her position, Edith may be forced to reveal the secret hidden in her locket in The Inheritance, a novel by author Louisa May Alcott.

Ah. One of those rare instances when I like a story’s movie better than its book.

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy reading this, hence two stars instead of one. Over the top in its drama, in an almost Shakespearean fashion, this little work of fiction leaves nothing to subtlety or nuance, penned by an obviously unseasoned hand. “Gay,” “noble,” and other forms of the two words, along with a handful of other oft-repeated terms, appear on practically every page, sometimes several times a page, and the heroine is sweetly perfect to the point of becoming something of a nuisance to read about.

Still, though, knowing that this was Alcott’s first novel, which she did not publish, I didn’t plan on taking it too seriously, and about as much as I enjoy reading Shakespeare, I enjoyed this–as a quick, in between, taking-a-break kind of read with an “old-fashionedness” that I am partial to in literature.

I’m happy to know that Alcott did get better, after this.

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Here’s the intro to the 1997 television movie I like so much. Horses are an important part of the story, mind you. 😉