Subversive Saturday Link Up!!
Commonplace Book, April 7, 2011

Closet Escape

Write about someone who made your childhood bearable.  

Louisa May Alcott

 

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I discovered Little Women when I was around 9 years old. It had been sitting on my shelf for years, waiting for me.  My grandma had sent me a box of "children's classics" years before when I was quite small, to "begin my library".  I'll bet she never imagined how well it would work.

Although I knew nothing about her at the time, Louisa May Alcott saved and enriched my childhood beyond compare.  I could become lost in her stories.  Drawn, oh so willingly, within her words; I was in 19th century New England, I had sisters who were also my dearest friends, my mother was soft and reassuring, and I knew my father would return from the war.

There was no yelling in the March family's world, not really.  Not the kind where windows are broken, children are frightened enough to hide in their closet, and fathers leave.  

But I had a way to escape.

I was Jo March. Reading books by the dozen, chomping on apples, scribbling away, going out to meet life; strong, determined, scornful of social convention, and true to myself.

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Of course there was also Little Men.

And I was Mother Bhaer. Jo March, all grown up and happy.  Smart, warm, with a houseful of children (most all boys), running a school for boys.  Accepting wayward lads (Dan was always my favorite of course); boys other schools refused (poor, sweet Billy; an "innocent), Nat the orphaned musician; and Tommy Bangs, always into scrapes and mishaps and hopelessly in love with opinionated Nan.  

{Sometimes I was Nan, but never Daisy.  She was just too horribly sweet...}

Little Women and Little Men are actually part of a trilogy, the third volume is called Jo's Boys. It doesn't quite match the great storytelling of it's predecessors, but it's still wonderful stuff to a March Family addict.  In it we learn the fates of the Plumfield boys & girls.

{To tell you the truth I wasn't too hot on how some of their stories ended.  But by the time I read them Louisa had long since passed on, and there was no one to complain to!}


 Eight Cousins, and it's sequel Rose in Bloom also played their roles in my escape.  Through them I fulfilled my longing for cousins who stayed; who weren't whisked away by an ex-wife never to be heard from again.  

How I wanted to travel by ship to India, to the Spice Islands, to befriend a scullery maid named Phoebe (which at the time I had no idea how to pronounce and called her "Fob" in my mind) with whom I'd share all my joys and woes.  And who would grow up to marry one of my cousins and be my forever friend.


When I grew up, became older, I learned more about Louisa May Alcott and her amazing life and family.  Her own story is a rich one and deserves to be studied, and all of her writing certainly wasn't "stories for girls", as the above novels are often, rather demeaningly, classified.

Louisa May Alcott was a writer

A teller of tales, a weaver of kind and lovely words.

It was she who wove the rich tapestry, invisible to all but myself, which I draped in front of my closet door; and, with a quick look either way, ducked behind to make my escape.  A flashlight, a well thumbed, beloved novel, and perhaps an apple or two clutched in my hands. 


 Thanks Louisa.

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{a writing prompt from mammakat's

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