by Louisa May Alcott
This book is the final one dealing with the March family. Jo and her professor started a school for boys and this is the sequel to Little Men, which chronicles the beginning of that school and the boys who attended. It takes place years after Little Women and the March women’s children are now grown and pursing their own lives.
The young residents of the March houses, Parnassus and Plumfield, are all picking careers and falling in love. Nan wants to be a doctor and spurs any romantic advances in lieu of the education she longs for. She and Dan were my two favorite characters. One bucks the social norms and decides to follow her dreams into the field of medicine. The other heads west to the Garden of the Gods and Rockies, longing for a life of adventure and being humbled along the way. It was fun to think about how new and radical both paths were at that time.
I made the mistake of reading this one before Little Men. It was published 15 years after that book, but I didn’t realize that when I started it. I really wish I would have read the other one first and will certainly go back and do so, but I went into this one without knowing who many of the characters were.
Jo’s Boys reminded me of the later books in the Anne of Green Gables series, like Rainbow Valley, that focus on the next generation. The writing is the same, but you miss spending time with the characters you have grown to love. I really loved one section which talks about Jo becoming a famous author and being hounded by her fans. It seems to be pretty autobiographical and gives the reader a little glimpse into Alcott’s own life after finding success.
BOTTOM LINE: A good book, but you definitely need to read Little Women and Little Men first. If you love both of those than you’ll love one last chance to spend time with the March family. It doesn’t give everyone a rosy ending, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s a bit darker and more realistic.
“The women of England can vote, and we can't. I'm ashamed of America that she isn't ahead in all good things.”
“It adds so much to one's happiness to love the task one does.”
“It was curious to see the prejudices melt away as ignorance was enlightened, indifference change to interest, and intelligent minds set thinking, while quick wits and lively tongues added spice to the discussions which inevitably followed.”
“Mothers can forgive anything! Tell me all, and be sure that I will never let you go, though the whole world should turn from you.”