Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott

Eight Cousins starts on Aunt Hill, the name given to the hill on which Rose's numerous aunts live. One of the things I loved most this book, when I read it, was the sense of reality that Louisa May Alcott creates and how relatable her characters are. One point that I found the main character, Rose, particularly easy to relate to, was when she was cooking bread in the kitchen. In this particular passage Rose is described as being red around the face, flustered and stressed. You can imagine the scene: flour everywhere, messy hair, and there, triumphantly placed in the centre of the table the loaf of bread! I really enjoy cooking but sometimes it can be quite stressful. I often feel like the recipe is asking me to be way too many places all at the same time and, consequently, often get things wrong. I have managed to add garlic butter to a cake, dropped eggs on the floor, forgotten to add baking powder, let bread rise so much that it explodes over the sides of its tray and, most recently, covered the entire kitchen in chocolate sauce! My friend, Megan, and I, didn't pay attention to how much chocolate sauce we were pouring on top of the cake. Before we knew it, it was too late. The chocolate proceeded to roll off the cake, off the plate and finally, off the work surface, before collecting in a sticky, brown puddle on the floor. It took a lot of cleaning up- especially as the sauce was very sticky!

Before I ramble on and on about my numerous cooking calamities let's return to the book that I am meant to be writing about, Eight Cousins. This is another of the books that my mum read to my siblings and I when I was was younger, I have also read it multiple times since. When I pick up Eight Cousins I think of long walks, quiet afternoons reading, baking, playing outside in the sunshine, trying new things and just generally doing all the things I love doing most. Books like Eight Cousins are great because so many of the experiences the characters have are realistic. For example, Rose learns to horse-ride, even-though, initially, she is terrified of horses. There are numerous things in everyone's life that they are afraid of, but overcome. When I was younger I used to be very frightened of horses as well. They were so very big and powerful, and I was so extremely small! I managed to get over this initial fear however, after taking horse-riding lessons with my friend Libby for just over a year. I'm still not completely confident around horses but I am able to walk, trot and canter without freaking out. Well, that is if I can still remember any of the things I used to know!

Louisa May Alcott writes about all of her characters in a way that makes them connect with you as the reader, each of them have their strengths and weaknesses,’ just as in real life. I'm not sure who my favourite character is in Eight Cousins, however, one that is particularly inspiring and heart-warming is Phoebe. She is a lovely young girl who is employed at Rose's great aunt's. Rose and Phoebe immediately strike up a lasting friendship despite their differences. Phoebe comforts Rose in her small sorrows and misfortunes without envying Rose's wealth, family or education. Despite how hard she has to work Phoebe is still optimistic, joyful and hard-working. She is also described as being incredible at singing, and thoroughly enjoys entertaining people with her voice as she preforms her work around the house.

Well, that's me done. My hope is that you will have been persuaded to pick this book off your shelf, dust it off, and give it a read (I know copies of Eight Cousins do still exist in local libraries). Louisa May Alcott is a favourite author of mine and I encourage that you try reading Little Women as well. Eight Cousins may not be as well-known, but it is a wonderful story about growing up, making friends, and facing life with strength and kindness. I am convinced that if you give this book a try you will come to love Rose Campbell as much as  I have.

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