Eight Cousins

A delightful book apologized for by Alcott for frailties due to the fact it was serialized, flaws she hopes to make up for in the sequel, Rose in Bloom. We find Rose as an orphaned thirteen year old living with her great aunts and expecting the arrival of her uncle at any moment. She meets her seven male cousins who jab and flaunt and tumble and cause a general ruckus. Uncle arrives and weens her off the ineffective potions and restrictive dress her aunts have put her in, letting her health get better with lack of coffee and increase in fresh air. Alcott takes great pains to describe the useless and constricting clothing women were asked to wear, the corsets and the heavy fabrics. One tragedy that hits near and dear to me was her cousin Mac (the bookworm) losing his sight for awhile after straining his eyes from reading too much, my own personal nightmare. Rose takes her maid, Phebe, who sings like a bird (phoebe! tricking Rose into thinking a mockingbird was in the house) under her wing, “adopting” her and giving her a 4th of July vacation where she stayed at home to care for the house. Cousin Steve/Dandy predates the current man-bun craze with a top knot of his own. It’s a happy and flimsy tale, and I’m gearing up for the sequel now.