A Critic's Meta Review: 4/5
Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888). Published by planksip
A Critic's Meta-Review: 4/5
Like many of Alcott’s books aimed at young people, this story takes a high moral tone. The many chapters depict the lessons learned from topics of high fashion, cigar-smoking, billiards, healthy diet and exercise, “yellow-back” novels, and other wholesome experiences for both girls and boys. Alcott continues to promote education and feminist ideas, many of which are familiar to readers of her other works. Written in an age where women had little control of their own money, property, or destinies, Alcott’s portrayal of Rose’s upbringing is more revolutionary than many of us 21st-century readers immediately realize. The lessons that can be learned in taking active, thoughtful control of our finances, education, and position in our communities continue to be relevant today and can be refreshing to reinforce to readers of all genders and ages.
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Published in 1875 by the popular American novelist Louisa May Alcott, Eight Cousins, otherwise known as The Aunt-Hill, follows the story of Rose Campbell, a lonely and sickly girl who has been recently orphaned and must reside with her maiden great aunts. When Uncle Alec returns from abroad and takes over her care, she becomes happier and healthier in response to his unorthodox approach to child-rearing. Each chapter of the novel depicts an adventure in Rose’s life that shows her how to make good choices and learn to help herself while defining her role as the only woman of her generation and as an heiress in Boston’s elite society.
After being motherless for most of her life, 13-year-old Rose must look to other figures for guidance. Her mentors consist of her many aunts, her friends, and the housemaid Phebe to serve as feminine role models. Phebe inspires Rose with her cheerful attitude in the face of poverty and reminds her to understand the value of her own good fortune.
However, after losing her father, she also turns to her uncle and seven male cousins for inspiration as well. Her Uncle Alec takes on an active role in her upbringing by discouraging the popular, restrictive clothing choices of the time in favour of less restrictive, healthier garment options. While he discourages her study of medicine, he educates her in physiology, a subject her aunt considers inappropriate for girls. In doing so, Rose learns the importance of taking charge of her own health and well as preparing for a career as a wife, mother, and active member of her community.