As shown by the stars listed above, this just wasn't very good. If you like to read a lot of lectures given to young people how to live their lives, you might like it though. Basically that's all this book is, a series of lectures delivered by Jo to the poor kids she's had the "pleasure" of raising. If I have to hear one more time about the evils of drinking, gambling, & cursing, I'll puke.
When reading this book 2 things become painfully obvious: 1) Ms. Alcott's publisher really wanted her to write this book to wrap things up with this series, even though Louisa didn't really have anything more she wanted to write about these characters, & 2) Louisa May Alcott never married or had kids of her own. It's so damn easy to sit there & think how you'd do it better when you've never had to do it yourself, & that's pretty much what she does in this book. You can just see her poor nieces & nephews cringing as she gets up on her soapbox yet again on how young people should be raised & trained & so forth.
I think this should be a lesson to all of us: don't write about something you have absolutely no idea about. It's either going to come across as very unreal, or very lame. This unfortunate book came across as both.
One last note: the big reason I read this book was to find out what happened to all the kids when they grew up. It was really depressing, since the "good" kids ended happily married with lucrative jobs while the "bad" kids all died or had miserable lives. And of course Dick & Billy from the previous book are conveniently disposed of. "Poor little Dick was dead, so was Billy; & no one could mourn for them, since life would never be happy, afflicted as they were in mind & body."
Louisa May, I think they died from reading this book.
Allow me to give them both better roles in this lovely tome:
Perfect little Daisy fell in love with Dick, & vise versa. Since even obedient Nat wasn't good enough for her mother Meg, Daisy & Dick ran off together in the dark of night, got married & moved out west. Starting from the ground up they established a berry farm in one of those lovely fertile areas of California & became very successful. Dick's last name was Smucker.
Billy left Plumfield (the prison Mrs. Jo ran with her weird German husband) after being treated so poorly. He ran off to Boston & got a job as a janitor at Harvard. He worked nights cleaning the chalkboards in the lecture halls, but occasionally solved one of the incredibly difficult math problems left on the boards. No one ever figured out it was him, & he was happy to be left alone. He never married, but had a nice little apartment & took care of himself & was a valuable member of the community.
Since we've left Nat without a denouement since Daisy ran off with Dick, we'll say Nat stayed in Europe & became a violinist with the London Symphony Orchestra. He came out of the closet when he met Oscar Wilde & lived a flamboyant & enjoyable life amid the London artsy set. Every Christmas he wrote to Plumfield, telling them that he was goddamn grateful they'd helped him out when he was younger, & that he'd drink a toast to them with hard liqueur while he was playing roulette in Monte Carlo on New Year's Eve.
I think that should pretty much set the old gal to rolling in her grave, don't you?