Tuesday, December 9, 2014

"The Inheritance" by Louisa May Alcott

First off, this book was never intended to be published. It was Louisa May Alcott's first novel she wrote when she was seventeen, but in 1997, publishers discovered and published it (I'm assuming one of her family members had it). I kept that in mind when I read it, because there are some unusual themes and rigidly moral plot choices. It is a good book, but I see why she chose not to publish it. I haven't read her other works, but this book lacks some polish.

The Plot:
The story follows Edith Adelon, orphaned governess to the highborn Amy Hamilton. Edith was taken in by Lord Hamilton after her mother passed away in Italy, but is mindful of her place in society and acts accordingly. But when it becomes clear that highborn men are interested in her rather than her benefactor's niece, how will she deal with the undue attention?

One of the things I was bothered most by in this book was the character of Edith herself. She was chronically described as teary-eyed, and whenever there was a break in the teary-eyed fest, it was mentioned. I realize her place in the book is semi-martyr-esque, but come on... she had tears in her eyes for 80% of the book. That's overkill on the gothic melodrama.

Morality-wise, this book has clear-cut heroes and an equally clear villain. My nine-year-old self might have loved that, but in real life, heroes and villains aren't entirely evil or good. My favorite characters have usually been painted in shades of gray, and so I admit that I'm not too fond of the characters being so uptight upright.

Nevertheless, I did like the basic storyline and read this book in one night, even while marking every mention of tearful past the first ten pages (which I was unwilling to count for this review). Louisa may have been only seventeen, but she had a flair for storytelling, even if this story truly needed some edits in content.

The Inheritance is a good story- but perhaps it's just a tad too good. In a way, Edith's piety came off as pride- almost as if she were too good to associate amongst the rest of humanity. In short, I recommend this to fans of Louisa May Alcott and gothic melodrama, but assume the author's other books would be a better choice for modern readers.

Rating: 3 of 5 Stars for a story with morally upright characters.

Content: Ages 12+ for tame action scenes and mean spirited people.

Page Count: 147 pages in my thin paperback edition.

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