Good Wives

Good Wives

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Good Wives

Good Wives

Read FREE!

Excerpt

"I HATE sequels," said the author of Little Women. She was hearty in her likes and dislikes ; but in this distrust of sequels she merely shared a feeling common to most writers. The sequel very seldom bears comparison with the parent book ; the case of Little Women and the series to which it gave rise is a rare exception.

In literary matters it was the fate of Louisa Alcott to prosper in directions which she herself thought the least likely. For many years she hoped to win fame as a dramatic author, although she never seems to have written even a passably good play. Little Women was begun without much enthusiasm in response to a suggestion that had been more than once made to her, that she should write a girls' book. The story gripped her in the end, as it has since gripped millions of readers ; but so little did she rate her talents in this field, that nobody was more surprised than herself at the instant and overwhelming success of the book. So in the case of Good Wives, and the charming volumes that followed it. Even after the extraordinary success of Little Women, the author, if left to herself, might have written other girls' books, but these would probably not have been sequels to the first. She was forced, almost in spite of herself, to give her eager readers the further experiences of the March family. Little Women had been out only a few months, when letters began to pour in from girls in all parts of America, who begged to know what happened afterwards to Jo and her sisters. It is even said that children became ill with anxiety as to whether Jo would or would not in the end marry Laurie. So Good Wives was begun to satisfy them, and finished in a few months.

It is a very charming side of Louisa Alcott's literary life, this intimate relationship with her young readers.

With many of them, in spite of ill health and almost ceaseless literary labours, she kept up a regular correspondence ; and she was constantly reminded that her work had won for her the warm personal affection of countless other little people. Hers was a nature to respond generously to such a stimulus. To this, no doubt, we may trace in large part the freshness of the many volumes in which the future history of the March family and their friends is set forth. Little Women owed its unequalled success to the fact that it was in essence a true story. Good Wives, Little Men, and the other volumes in the same series, owed more to the invention and less to the actual experience of the author ; but in them the note of reality and sincerity rings almost equally true.

When half the children in America, and indeed throughout the English-speaking world, regarded Jo, with her sisters and friends, as only less real than their own sisters and brothers, it was impossible for a writer of Louisa Alcott's loving and sympathetic nature to lower the standard of her work. With Little Women she stepped at once into her empire in the hearts of her readers ; if she had never written another book, she would still be the greatest of writers for girls. But having gained her place by this one great book, she added in after years new claims to the love and admiration of her subjects. Though she may have begun by hating sequels, she ended by proving that it was possible to write a series of volumes that should be in every respect worthy of the great original upon which they were founded.

HERBERT STRANG.

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