Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott: 9780593198025 ...

Little Women is a novel written by Louisa May Alcott and first published in 1868.

The novel was an autobiographical family ethics novel set in the American Civil War and based on the life’s trifles of four sisters in an ordinary family in New England in the 19th century. Influenced by Ralph Waldo Emerson, the great thinker of the time, the novel emphasizes the concept of personal dignity, independence and self-discipline. The content is simple but exquisite; the structure is simple but profound, full of strong appeal. Little Women is a semi-autobiographical novel with female characters and feminist consciousness.

During the American Civil War, Mr. March went to war as a chaplain, and his four daughters and their mother lived a poor but strong and optimistic life at home. They were poor, but willing to help their neighbors, the Hummels, who needed help more than they did. Women have vanity; they want to get beautiful clothes, eat delicious food, live like a princess. Although full of fantasy, in real life, they use their own efforts to solve the various difficulties in life. The eldest daughter, Meg, is beautiful by nature and full of longing for love; the second daughter, Jo, was independent and determined to be a writer; the third daughter, Beth, is the traditional good girl, weak and lovable. The youngest daughter, Amy, loves painting. The story follows these four women as they grow from girls into little women, recounting their unruly experiences and respective pursuit of different ideals and the processing of finding their true self.

The reason why the four March sisters, who are the true, the good and the beautiful, have such qualities as kindness, diligence, selflessness, tolerance and toughness cannot be separated from Mrs. March’s excellent education. Parents are their children’s first teachers, and there is no doubt that Mrs. March is an excellent teacher. She is generous, ready to help others, not easily angry, and grateful for life. In the eyes of the children, she is not only a good mother, but also their best friend. They liked to confide their worries to Mrs. March, who gave them good advice and help. It is because of Mrs. March’s unique family education that the four sisters became little women loved by everyone. Consequently, the courageous images of women in this book touch the heartstrings of numerous female readers.

-Coreen C.

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Gone with the Wind (novel) - Wikipedia

Gone with the Wind is a novel written by American writer Margaret Mitchell, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1937. Set in Atlanta and a nearby plantation, the novel depicts life in southern America before and after the Civil War. Scarlett, Rhett, Ashley, Melanie, and the rest of the southerners are at the center of the story. Their customs and manners, words and deeds, spiritual concepts, and political attitudes, through the entanglement of love between Scarlett and Rhett, successfully depicted the Civil War led by Lincoln and the social life in the southern area of the United States.

The Civil War destroyed the economy of Georgia and the whole South. Slaves were freed and the good old days of slave owners were gone. In order to survive, they had to put down their pride and struggle, or they would die, and even the elite of Alanta would have to condescend to selling cakes and driving wagons. Feminist literature began in the 19th century and flourished in the 20th century. The rapid development of feminism is closely related to the social environment and historical background at that time. As the ideas of liberty, equality, fraternity and natural human rights advocated by the French Revolution rapidly gained popularity throughout the world, a feminist movement began to fight for women’s equality in politics, economy, education and other aspects from the 1830s. Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind, published in 1936, was written under such circumstances.

In the past, the author used to create a single and prominent character, that is, the positive character is brilliant, without any shortcomings, while the negative character is usually full of dark, cunning, and comes with a callous nature. However, Gone with the Wind breaks this way of description. The characters presented in the novel are the combination of positive and negative dispositions. This combination of personalities not only manifests the characteristics of each character in a round and vivid way, but also reveals a personal change brought by social upheaval in a deeper level.

-Coreen C.

Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

The Help by Kathryn Stockett is a heart-wrenchingly beautiful novel about patience, faith, and the transcending power of love.

The novel focuses on three main characters and their intertwining stories. Aibileen Clark is an African-American housekeeper in 1960s Jackson, Mississippi. Tormented by her mistress and haunted by her son’s recent death, Aibileen begins to seek change. Minny Jackson is Aibileen’s best friend. She’s been fired from job after job because of her smart mouth. With five mouths to feed and an abusive husband, Minny is hardened and bitter. However, when she goes to work for Celia Ray, she discovers something new. Eugenia Phelan has been different her entire life. She’s never exactly fit in with her parents’ wealthy, white friends: she longs to be a writer and find true love on the side. As she navigates the treacherous minefield of high society and tentative love, she meets Aibileen and Minny, and the three unite to write a book that may very well get them killed.

The Help is about so much more than the complicated race relations in the mid-90s South. At its heart, it’s a coming-of-age, an opening-of-heart story. Over the course of the plot, the three women learn to find themselves in the blank noise of society, to stay true to themselves when everyone else is telling them to lie. At the end of the day, that is what the novel is about. The enormous power of opening your heart and mind is realistically and hauntingly portrayed here. The hauntingly heartfelt writing style employed by Miss Stockett is perfect- the book reads like a letter written to an old friend. This is a thought-provoking novel that will elicit tears and laughs in equal measures.

-Vaidehi B.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded online for free from Overdrive