I read this book because it always been my mother’s favourite book. She has varying taste in literature, from rather good taste in the classics to a disturbing affection for thrillers with horrible, gruesome deaths in them. She has loved this since her childhood, so I thought it was high time I gave it a try. I think my expectations were a little high because I was thoroughly disappointed.
The book was published in 1868 and, from what I can gather, it is set in roughly the same time. It is the story of four sisters and their mother. Their father is absent, involved in the war, and at one point, gets very sick. The daughters are all very virtuous and spend most of the book working to be even more so. This is touted as a good example of women’s fiction of it’s day, the women in it are all a bit girly and fluffy for my liking. Gone With The Wind it is not (I realise GWTW was written much later but it is set at the same time and also one of my mother’s all-time favourites so I am allowed to compare them).
There are four girls, the eldest, who is pretty and will probably marry well, so that’s alright for her, then. The next eldest who is very masculine, even by today’s standards. She refers to herself as a chap, and does scandalous things such as wear clothes for comfort rather than fashion. It’s rather telling that she was one of the more popular characters when this book was published. The next two are very young, more girly fluffiness, one of them gets very sick, I cannot remember which one, because they have blurred into one for me.
The story spans a year from Christmas to Christmas with not a great lot in between, but a couple of bouts of illness for family members. Their poor mother is a single parent of four with one servant, very little money, and all the worries of an absent and sick partner. She seems to do a pretty good job of the stressful situation she is in. If I had to choose, she would be my hero of the book.