Monday, March 18, 2013


Finished Moods by Louisa May Alcott. This was Alcott's first published novel. It originally appeared in 1864, but was later heavily revised by the author and the updated version appeared in 1882. Like Whitman's Leaves of Grass I chose to read the final revision.

Moods is a coming of age novel about Sylvia Yule, a non-conventional seventeen year old who is more tomboy than young woman. She is friends with all animals and lives a bit wildly, much to the chagrin of her older, spinster sister Prue. Prue tries time and again to tame her, but to little avail. In her best tomboy spirit Sylvia accompanies her older brother Max and his friends Adam (ehem), and Geoffrey on a sailing/camping expedition. Of course both of the friends fall in love with Sylvia. Adam, who is also unconventional, shares Sylvia's tendency towards moodiness. In the novel it is almost considered a dangerous flaw. He is a wanderer, unable to settle down physically or intellectually. Geoffrey, however, is kind, gentle and generous and lives nearby in The Manse.

Sylvia falls for Adam, attracted by his sense of adventure and lack of societal ties. But Adam goes off on one of his adventures, leaving Sylvia and Geoffrey behind. During the year he is gone Geoffrey, unaware of Sylvia and Adam's feelings for each other, tries his best to win Sylvia's heart. She resists at first, but when she begins to feel that Adam will never return, that he has forgotten her, she agrees to marry Geoffrey, thus choosing the conventional path with her family's seal of approval. All seems well at first with husband and very young wife playing house together until one day Adam returns to claim Sylvia. It is then she realizes that she has made a terrible mistake.

This novel had a heavy dose of melodrama, especially toward the end, but I still found it enjoyable. I kept wishing for modern pharmaceuticals to help all these people out.

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