I started reading books by Louisa May Alcott when I was 13, and I absolutely loved them! I enjoyed the feminist and family oriented messages that were embedded in the stories. One of the first books by Louisa May Alcott that I read was Little Women, but I quickly found out that she wrote so many more books than just that well known novel. Because I loved her writing so much, I found and read as many of her books as I could, and I want to share with you a few of Alcott’s books that have been my favorites.
1. An Old-Fashioned Girl
An Old-Fashioned Girl was one of the first books by Louisa May Alcott that I read outside of the Little Women series, and I was so glad that I did. In this novel, Alcott tells the story of 14 year old Polly Milton, who lives in the country. Polly visits her wealthy relatives in the city and has a hard time adjusting to their cosmopolitan ways. Similarly, Polly’s relatives find her a bit odd. The story follows the family through their adjustments to one another and ends with a positive message about family values. As someone who grew up in smaller towns and at one point had baby ducks and lambs for pets, I really enjoyed reading An Old-Fashioned Girl.
2. Eight Cousins
If you have a quirky and fun uncle, then I think you might really enjoy Eight Cousins. The heroine of Eight Cousins is Rose Campbell, who has to go and live with her stuffy old aunts and rambunctious cousins after her father dies. Although she lives with her aunts, her guardian is her feminist uncle. Under his care, Rose stops wearing corsets and starts getting daily exercise. Horrors! Unsurprisingly, Rose becomes much happier and thrives under her Uncle Alec’s care. Personally, I loved this novel for its feminist message that comes from the peculiar uncle.
3. Rose in Bloom
Rose in Bloom is Alcott’s sequel to Eight Cousins. As its name suggests, Rose has grown up in this novel, and Alcott writes about Rose’s desire to do philanthropic work instead of follow her aunts’ advice to marry one of her cousins and keep the money in the family. Before you get too put off by Rose’s aunts’ wishes, remember that this was a very common practice in the 1800s. Ultimately, Rose does indeed choose to marry one of her cousins, but she also focuses on her philanthropic work. Rose in Bloom is not as free spirited as Eight Cousins, but it is still a fun novel to read for its subtle women’s rights message.
4. Under the Lilacs
I adored reading Under the Lilacs because it is about childhood antics in the summer. In this story, Bab and Betty find a stray dog while having a tea party in the garden, and the dog leads them to a young boy, Ben, who is a circus runaway. Bab and Betty hide Ben in a barn until a neighbor “adopts” him. All this happens at the start of the summer! The remainder of the story is about the various escapades of the children, which include being unfairly accused of stealing, a terrible riding accident, as well as other adventures. If you are longing for your carefree childhood summers, you will absolutely enjoy Alcott’s Under the Lilacs!
5. Jack and Jill
Jack and Jill is the perfect story to read on a snowy Sunday. Alcott wrote it as a children’s book set in New England after the Civil War. In the story, like in the nursery rhyme, Jack and Jill go up a hill. This time, however, they have a terrible sledding accident that results in a long recovery from their injuries. True to form, Alcott has the children learn many life lessons during their recovery. I happened to read Jack and Jill over Christmas one year, and I must say it really is the best story to read in the winter.
6. The Baron’s Gloves
Who among us hasn’t dreamt of having an intriguing romance while on vacation in a European country? I know I have, and so did Amy and Helen as they traveled through Europe with their elderly uncles. In The Baron’s Gloves, Amy and Helen were bored during their travels and wanted romantic intrigue. So, their uncles cooked up a scheme with two wealthy young men, and had the girls find a pair of gentleman's gloves on the balcony of their hotel room. Mystery ensues for the young ladies, and they do get their romantic intrigue, even if it is at the hands of their scheming uncles! I am not sure I would appreciate such actions from family members, but I did enjoy Alcott’s story very much.
7. Gwen’s Adventure in the Snow
Gwen’s Adventure in the Snow is one of my favorite short stories written by Louisa May Alcott, which can be found in a compilation of stories entitled Kate's Choice. In this story, Gwen and her siblings go out for a sleigh ride only to be trapped at their country house during a snowstorm, and they must band together to get through the snowy night. Even though they were in no real danger, the experience is scary for the children. However, they get through the night by making their own fire, finding food in the cellar, and having a picnic. It is a sweet story about childhood bravery that I have come back to many times.
Louisa May Alcott is well known for her Little Women series, but she wrote many other books outside of the series that are equally worthy of attention. I love Alcott’s books and have found many favorites that I enjoyed reading, some I have read more than once. I hope you have found one on this list that you would like to read. What are your favorite books by Louisa May Alcott?