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Under the Lilacs Paperback – 10 Dec 1996

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Paperback, 10 Dec 1996
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Product details

  • Paperback: 262 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; Uniform Ed edition (10 Dec. 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316030872
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316030878
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.9 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,158,220 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) was an American novelist. She is best known for the novel Little Women and its sequels Little Men and Jo's Boys. Little Women was set in the Alcott family home, Orchard House in Concord, Massachusetts, and published in 1868. This novel is loosely based on her childhood experiences with her three sisters. Alcott's literary success arrived with the publication by the Roberts Brothers of the first part of Little Women: or Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy, a semi-autobiographical account of her childhood with her sisters in Concord, Massachusetts. Part two, or Part Second, also known as Good Wives, followed the March sisters into adulthood and their respective marriages. Little Men detailed Jo's life at the Plumfield School that she founded with her husband Professor Bhaer at the conclusion of Part Two of Little Women. Jo's Boys completed the "March Family Saga". In Little Women, Alcott based her heroine "Jo" on herself. But whereas Jo marries at the end of the story, Alcott remained single throughout her life. She explained her "spinsterhood" in an interview with Louise Chandler Moulton, "because I have fallen in love with so many pretty girls and never once the least bit with any man." However, Alcott's romance while in Europe with Ladislas Wisniewski, "Laddie", was detailed in her journals but then deleted by Alcott herself before her death. Alcott identified Laddie as the model for Laurie in Little Women, and there is strong evidence this was the significant emotional relationship of her life. When her younger sister May died in 1879, Alcott took in May's daughter, Louisa May Nieriker ("Lulu"), who was two years old. The baby had been named after her aunt, but was nicknamed Lulu, whereas Louisa May's nicknames were "Weed" and "Louy". In her later life, Alcott became an advocate for women's suffrage and was the first woman to register to vote in Concord, Massachusetts, in a school board election. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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The elm-tree avenue was all overgrown, the great gate was never unlocked, and the old house had been shut up for several years. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 5 Feb. 2002
Format: Paperback
'Under the Lilacs' is, like 'Little Women, a sweet, simple tale in the true Alcott style. It begins very prettily with a portrait of childhood and its pleasures, and ends in a similar vein with all the sweetness and light possible. The story itself is not very substantial or startling, but well worth reading for Alcott fans. The book itself is an easy read; Alcott is slightly didactic, but not enough to interfere with the story; some of the characters are unnaturally good, but that is only to be expected. The book chiefly concerns a young boy who has run away from the circus, an old theme given a new aspect by the author. His adventures and those of his playmates form the substance of the book. I found the first chapter lovely, but the book palled a bit after that; after reading 'Rose in Bloom' especially it was something of a disappointment. The book certainly isn't a work of genius, but Alcott fans will like it even if only as a work presenting another view of the author's skill.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 0 reviews
28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Juvenile yet complex 2 Mar. 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I enjoyed Under the Lilacs immensely. It is a wonderful story of children and how they mature. The characters at times seemed rather flat and uninteresting yet the story is a very fun one. It is full of laughter and tears and eventually a happy ending. I would recommend this book to people who have enjoyed Louisa May Alcott in the past or those who enjoy a relatively juvenile book yet will be able to understand references to relatively older literature.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Nostalgia 29 Sept. 2008
By R. Fink - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Young people may find it corny, but older adults will delight in the adventures of a "lost boy" in a caring community (before social workers) and his adventures with the neighboring children. All the elements of old-fashioned story-telling: a crippled lad, a rich lady with horses, a day at the circus, the "stolen" money. This reprint has a lot of typos which, in a strange way, adds an authentic "feel" of the times.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Under The Lilacs 9 Feb. 2011
By Blanche Tracy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While most of this story is charming and delightful, I would caution anyone who is sensitive to animal abuse to give it a pass.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Old-fashioned classic 19 July 2010
By Sunny Leap - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Vignettes of nostalgic town life reminiscent of Tom Sawyer or the Five Little Peppers. We first meet Babs and Betty Moss at a dolls' tea party in which they discover the clever show dog Sancho foraging for his master Ben, a runaway from the circus. Ben's father had left the circus for a more promising job, intending to send for his son once he was settled. With his father's protection gone, Ben is harshly treated by the circus master and runs away.

Arriving soon after the runaways are Celia and her young brother Thornton, returning to their old home after being gone for years. Thorny is weak from a long illness and is wheelchair-ridden and crabby although he admits that Celia is "the best sister that ever was". She hires Ben to amuse her brother during his convalescence while allowing Babs and Betty, whose mother takes care of the premises, to continue to play house on the porch and path. The kids occupy themselves with botanical expeditions, ship-building, water wheels and other waterworks play, picnics, baseball and archery. Babs loses Sancho at a circus and Betty finds him again in pitiful shape after accompanying Thorny to the dentist. Celia breaks her arm after a fall from her horse and is rescued by Ben. He is gradually weaned away from the roving circus life although Celia invites the school to a splendid birthday party for him where he shows himself in his former circus glory as Cupid on a galloping horse. There is a little trouble with missing money and false accusations but Ben, who is honest and true, gradually endears himself to the two families. Several joyous unions and reunions take place at the end as well as one intended for the future, although in the midst of preparing for one, the incorrigible Babs almost burns down the house under the lilacs. The tone is quaint and old-fashioned but the simple pleasures of life shine through and Ben is both boy-like and engaging.
Not the best Alcott - but I'll take what I can get 15 Feb. 2015
By E.J. Jones - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
As far as Bab and Betty can remember, no one has ever lived in the old house where the lilacs grow. The two sisters play there all the time - once, they even find a runaway circus boy named Ben and his remarkable dog Sancho. Soon after that, though, the beautiful owner of the house and her invalid brother return home and hire Ben to work for them. Ben loves Miss Celia and even grows to like her brother Thorny, but will he ever able to adjust to being a regular kid after the harsh but exciting circus life?

Louisa May Alcott is a wonderful writer whose narration tells a story like one's favorite grandmother or maiden aunt. "Under the Lilacs" is just her style in that way, but not in every way. The excellent character development present in "Little Women" is absent here (save sweet Ben, prickly Thorny - ha-ha, get it? - and little Sancho). Bab is the daring sister and Betty is the ladylike sister, and there's really not much else to them. Miss Celia's a darling but also doesn't have much personality.

The plot is also rather episodic. "Little Women" and "Eight Cousins" were too, of course, but the episodes just felt so random here. They didn't feel like they were building toward anything - Ben grows up, of course, and so do the girls, but I felt like I needed a little more than that. More payoff, or something. "Under the Lilacs" just didn't grab me like "Little Women," "Eight Cousins," or even "An Old-Fashioned Girl."

Of course, I'm not saying not to read it. Just don't expect another "Little Women."
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