I had two options for the letter “O” for my A-Z Competition 2012. One was Kerouac’s classic – “On the Road” and the second was “An Old Fashioned Girl” by M. Alcott.
I have never read any of Kerouac’s works but being the controversial writer I had heard extremely profound praises and equally critical comments as well. Yet I ventured to take the risk and when I got it for 200 on Flipkart. I flipped through the first two chapters and it is too early to provide any thoughts on it. But I had to put it aside as I didn’t find time to read it and since I am in a hurry to finish the challenge with the year coming to a close and I have six letters to finish, I switched it for a free book that is available on the Public Domain.
Enter “An old fashioned girl”.
During childhood days, every summer holiday, the one book that I would pick without fail was “Little Woman”. There was something enchanting about the three children and their lives that I was hooked to. So when I saw another Alcott book with the letter “O” I started reading it without a second thought.
But I was disappointed. Quite disappointed. Three is too much “goody-goody” going on in the book. The main protagonist Polly is shown as an epitome of all that is good and virtuous on this planet. And she can be quite preachy for a kid/young woman. Even the childhood chapters which constitute 60% of the book are quite drab and dull. I had no urge to read the next chapter other than to put a check mark against the letter “O”. That is what propelled me to continue to read the book.
In brief it’s a story about a “poor” girl who comes for a summer visit to her “rich” friends house and how her goodness rubs off on the rest of the family and they learn to become more humble and down to earth. Later as an adult she takes abode in the same village as a piano teacher and earns her living and saves money for her brother’s education, forsaking her desires and living the simple life in exchange. She has feelings for Tom, her rich friend’s brother, but it is never really the focus of the book. When bad times fall on her friend [which is not explained very convincingly] they learn how to bear the travesties of life with a smile thanks to Ms. Polly’s happy spirit.
Honestly its quite tedious book and preachy too. Anne of green gables which I found was also along somewhat similar lines is a much engrossing read (comparatively). This book is nothing like Little Woman so one shouldn’t set their expectations too high.