Louisa M. Alcott
Ages 14 and up
Penguin, 1995, 0140366687
The four March girls are feeling very sorry for themselves at the moment for Christmas is almost upon them and it does not seem likely that it will be a very cheerful holiday. There will be no presents or parties and with Father away at war, Jo, Meg, Amy and Beth find it hard not to feel quite cheerless. Then their mother, Marmee, comes home and it is as if the light has been brought back into their little home. The girls decide to do their best to use what little money they have to give Marmee gifts and to make her Christmas festive.
On Christmas day the girls are eagerly looking forward to their special Christmas breakfast when Marmee comes in from the cold to tell them that just down the road there is a poor German family who are without food or heat on this special day. Without a word the girls take their Christmas breakfast to the poor Hummel family and take joy in the obvious happiness of Mrs. Hummel and her little children. Little do the sisters know that their generosity has been noted and in the evening they are surprised to find that their neighbor, Mr. Lawrence, has sent them a feast as a reward for their kindness.
Soon Mr. Lawrence and his grandson Laurie have become fast friends with the Marchs. Though Mr. Lawrence is very wealthy and his neighbors are very poor, the two families become close. Marmee gives the motherless Laurie the guiding hand that he needs and the girls give him their friendship and love. Laurie and Jo have a wonderful time getting into scrapes and having adventures, much to the disapproval of Meg who seems to be growing up very fast all of a sudden.
When Mr. March gets sick and Marmee has to go to Washington to nurse him, Mr. Lawrence and Laurie show their true friendship as they help the four girls deal with their anxiety. Then, to make matters worse, Beth gets scarlet fever and soon she is terribly and grievously ill. The girls want their mother with them and yet they are reluctant to call her away from the bedside of their father.
Though this book was originally published in book form in 1868, it still h as enormous charm for the modern reader and many readers will find themselves moved to laughter or tears by the adventures of the March girls as they struggle their way towards womanhood. Delightful vignettes and descriptions fill the story to give the reader a warm picture of life in the March family circle.
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