Monday, December 8, 2014

A Merry Christmas & Other Christmas Stories, by Louisa May Alcott

Staff Review by Chris Saliba

Six delightful Christmas stories from Louisa May Alcott, plus a Christmas excerpt from Little Women.

A Merry Christmas & Other Christmas Stories features six individual Christmas stories plus an excerpt from Little Women. Novelist and critic G. K. Chesterton once noted that Louisa May Alcott’s writing “is one of the really human things in human literature.” It’s hard to put it better than that. 

The stories in this slim collection exhibit Alcott’s warmth and generosity of spirit. She is an expert at drawing intimate domestic scenes: blazing hearth fires, plump pies ready for eating and cozy rooms providing protection from the wind, snow and rain outside. Louisa May Alcott must also have surely loved children, as her portraits of them are especially sweet. In one story she describes how, “The little ones lay about, looking like little Cupids with sugar hearts and faded roses still clutched in their chubby hands.”

The themes of these stories are all about charity, setting a good example and helping out those less well off than yourself. Orphans find relief from their poverty and bad luck, neglected grandmothers are found again by their relatives and lonely widows get second chances at love. It’s all very heartwarming, but doesn’t come across as sickly-sweet or cloying. Louisa May Alcott’s very human touch, her appeal to the better part of our natures, has ensured that her stories remain timeless. This collection will transport you back to 19th century America, while its positive message will lift your spirits.

A Merry Christmas & Other Christmas Stories, by Louisa May Alcott. Published by Penguin. ISBN: 9780143122463 $16.99

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