AHHHH, I’m such a loser and this is like, three days late. Sorry everyone!!! Thanks for being super cool about it, and I promise the next installment will be on time!
Right off the bat, can we just all agree that Jo is awesome? Meg is all worried about being cold and Jo is like “NOPE. Boots on!” I love Jo. ❤
OK. So. Chapter Five is basically where we get to learn all about Laurie! Yay! A boy! Some Y chromosomes up in here! And if you’ve been following us so far, you know that Laurie has a bit of a crush on Jo already. Here we find out that the large Lawrence house (occupied by the elder Mr. Lawrence and his grandson “Laurie”) is separated by the modest March home by a little, low hedge. Metaphor, thy name is This Scene.
O! But The Marches have more than the Lawrences, surely, for their riches lie in family. The Lawrence home, though “stately,” is described as “a lonely lifeless sort of house, for no children frolicked on the lawn, no motherly face ever smiled at the windows, and few people went in and out, except the old gentleman and his grandson.”
Clearly, this is a job for SuperJo.
She heads over, with a gift from all the girls: Amy’s blancmange (a kind of sweet gelatin dish), flowers from Amy’s pet geranium, and three of Beth’s kittens. Jo’s gift? Herself.
Baller confidence, Jo. Baller.
So Jo entertains Laurie, cleans up his house for him, and basically acts like the 1860’s version of a perfect wife, all while pretty much not knowing what she’s doing. (Apparently going into a guy’s house to clean it for him while he’s sick doesn’t scream “I’m interested in you!” the same way it does now…)
Okay, maybe that’s just me. Moving on.
Grandfather Lawrence makes an appearance, which is basically only there to say “Whoops, maybe locking up my grandson away from kids his own age is a bad idea?” Laurie plays piano for Jo, Jo goes home, and everyone decides to go visit next time. We find out more about Laurie’s past, which is to say his father (Grandfather Lawrence’s son) married an Italian lady, and they both died when their son was very little and he’s lived with his grandfather ever since. Marmee says that Laurie isn’t very “strong” having been born in Italy, which is a bit of hilarious xenophobism to me, because I’m pretty sure the Italians have been sexing it up and making just as strong babies as we have for many more years than we have. Also, Laurie wants to be a musician like his mother and apparently this is bad.
In Chapter Six, “Beth Finds The Palace Beautiful” (which is a reference to Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress and makes no sense unless you’ve read it, and still no sense even if you have, like me) Beth’s Palace Beautiful becomes the Lawrence mansion. Being the timid younger sister and all, Beth is naturally terrified of the kindly gentleman next door. She won’t even go over to play the beautiful piano he’s told her she can play. So Beth sits at home, staring longingly next door. (Hey, at least it’s mutual now. Maybe she and Laurie will cross longing stares and wave.)
Blah blah blah, Laurie neglects his music so why doesn’t Beth play for us, Beth is timid, and a whole chapter later, Beth gets over her fear of Grandfather Lawrence, we find out Laurie had an aunt that died young, she goes to play their piano every night while he listens in the room next door so he doesn’t make her nervous, Beth makes him some purple slippers, he thanks her by buying Beth her own piano.
There, see? Pianos. Shyness. Slippers. More pianos. I saved you a whole chapter of reading. You’re welcome.
Chapter Seven, “Amy’s Valley of Humiliation.” And a good thing too. That girl gets on my nerves. That might just be me though, because I’m an only child and therefore little sisters are inherently annoying and not understandable. Moving on.
So, apparently pickled limes are a thing. They sound incredibly gross, but the girls at Amy’s school trade them and buy them to… I don’t know. Show off? Schoolgirls are weird. Even in 1860. (I just recently found out that kids used to play a game called Ante Over where they literally threw a ball over the roof of the school at the opposing team. So maybe trading pickled limes was among the least of their weird habits.)
So Amy gets a quarter and takes her picked limes to school, where she becomes extremely popular for the day because everyone wants one of her limes. But then she insults another popular girl, who tattles on her about the limes… and oh geez. Seriously, they’re just limes.
Amy gets in trouble and is made to toss them out the window two-by-two, where the Irish children who are their “sworn foes” (wow, Louisa, really?) are able to gobble them up. Then she gets whacked on the palms with a ruler for just trying to fit in at school and do what everyone else was doing. (Who’s still a little bitter about schoolroom societal pressures? Obviously not me at all.) Then she has to stand at the front of the class where she can see everyone’s pitying stares. Except for that bitch that tattled on her. Screw her.
Mrs. March, when she finds out about this all, does the AWESOME thing and totally confronts the stupid teacher, and pulls Amy out of school to homestudy with Beth. Seriously, props to Marmee. She compounds the awesomeness by pointing out to her silly daughter that she shouldn’t have taken or bought the dang limes in the first place and deserved to be punished… just not so harshly. Amy is furious, and everyone gets a lecture about being a good little girl.
Chapter Eight. In Which Amy Is A Total Bitch Some More. (Well, it might as well be called that.)
One night, Amy and Jo are heckled by Amy to take her along with them and Laurie to a show. They refuse because she wasn’t invited, the tickets were bought by Laurie and they don’t want to impose for another ticket or for him to give up his seat for Amy. They leave, Amy throws a temper tantrum.
At some point during the show, Jo begins to feel bad for yelling “Fiddlesticks” at Amy. They come home to see their little sister reading peacefully on the floor, and Jo’s drawers turned upside down. They think she’s had her say and all is forgiven until Jo finds out…
AMY BURNED HER MANUSCRIPT. NOT. EVEN. JOKING.
WAY TO OVERREACT, YOU LITTLE SHITHEAD.
Quite literally, “Amy’s bonfire had consumed the loving work of several years.” I would have throttled her, and though it seems as Jo wants to, she ultimately forgives her sister, because Amy then falls into a frozen pond, under the ice. Even though she’s totally okay, won’t even get a cold, and Jo had nothing to do with it other than the fact that Amy followed her to the pond to try and force Jo to take her apology and Jo noped out of there.
Ugh. Little sisters are the worrrrrst.
There’s also a lovely scene with Marmee that makes me want to go and call my mother. In fact, we should all go call our mothers right now. Go on, I’ll wait.
Right-o, Chapter Nine. In Which Meg Tries To Keep Up With The Joneses.
Poor Meg. As the eldest she remembers when the Marches still had some money and could afford to live comfortably. I think that adds a lot to her character because she’s a bit whiny and wistful for the good old days, and it gives Alcott a lot to lecture on regarding being happy with what you’ve got.
So Meg goes to visit a friend who is well-off, and even though they treat her well and as one of the family, she only sees pity in the attentions of the Moffat Family daughters. She feels better when Laurie send flowers and Marmee sends a note, and goes off dancing.
Much to her chagrin, the whole party is talking about how lovely it would be if one of the March girls “landed” Laurie, and how much they wish she’d tear her “dowdy” dress so that they can buy her a new one. Poor Meg. Jo would rip them a new one, but Meg is too kind, and feels the unintended slights as deeply as Beth would. The Moffats invite Laurie to visit during a small house party, and the daughters take it upon themselves to matchmake, dressing Meg up ridiculously with lots of makeup and in a blue silk dress.
And because we must learn a lesson, and Meg must too, Laurie sees her with surprise and more than a bit of disgust/disappointment. For in changing one’s outward appearance, one belies a vanity that is unfitting of a proper young lady… according to Alcott. So Meg is ashamed, Laurie is embarrassed for her, and Meg learns that dressing up and having a good time causes headaches. (I think here we can infer that Meg got a little drunk, which I think is awesome. Good for her!)
Bu we get a lovely piece of advice from Marmee, which is to say, “My dear girls, I am ambitious for you, but not to have you make a dash in the world, marry rich men merely because they are rich, or have splendid houses, which are not homes because love is wanting. Money is a needful and precious things, and when well used, a noble thing, but I never want you to think it is the first or only prize to strive for. I’d rather see you poor men’s wives, if you were happy, beloved, contented, than queens on thrones, without self-respect and peace…. Better happy old maids than unhappy wives, or unmaidenly girls running about to find husbands.”
I really like Marmee, if only because she is the polar opposite of Mrs. Bennett.
Chapter 10, and I promise to wrap this up quickly!
We are greeted with the mysterious chapter heading, “The P.C. and P.O.” The first is the “Pickwick Club,” which is basically a jumble of poems and plays and secret meetings about behavior and conduct and call each other by names like Winkle and Tupman and Snodgrass. The girls wish to induct Laurie, who is revealed as having been listening to the entire meeting under a pile of rags, and is now to be known as Sam Weller, the club servant.
The P.O., was the club’s post office, through which they sent little messages and token to each other, and the adults got in on the fun too.
That’s it. Really. The entirety of Chapter 10 is all about how they entertained themselves, and there’s a bunch of poems.
The end! (…Of this week.)
For next week, and this because I’m so lame and this blog is like three days late: Only read through chapter 14!
See you all next week! And as always, leave your comments below! We love to hear your opinions!
This week’s #CAbookclub round up brought to you by Cammysawr!!! Check out her blog here: http://cammysawr.tumblr.com/post/85973207638/classic-alice-book-club-round-up-week-1
Some of my faves: