Wednesday: Five Moments

February 4, 2015 @ 7:52 pm | Filed under:

1. Spirited discussion of story structure with four bright girls, meandering into the all-important topic of why, why, why couldn’t Jo have ended up with Laurie?

2. Huck’s very delicate sneeze after dinner, which the older members of the family agreed was the cutest we’d ever heard

3. The way they laughed when my character fell off the log (again) in Harvest Moon

4. Video chat with Krissy, making plans

5. From yesterday, but I didn’t look at the pictures until this morning: Rose helping Huck learn “The Tyger” by heart

tyger tyger

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14 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. sarah says:

    Re number one – apparently Louisa May Alcott did that on purpose. She was under pressure from fans for Jo to marry Laurie but she refused, she wanted Jo to remain a happy spinster. Eventually, tha pressure from readers and her publisher grew so great, she compromised on the conclusion we have now. 🙁

    You probably already know this.

    • Melissa Wiley says:

      And then Nan from Little Men does grow up to be a “useful, happy, and independent spinster.” 🙂 She always seemed another LMA avatar to me.

      From a writerly perspective, what fascinates me is that LMA crafted a story that leaves nearly all its readers pining for a different outcome—and yet we love the book dearly nonetheless. Our discussion yesterday focused on that aspect, the way a writer sets up a reader’s expectations and then can either satisfy them or confound them—and with varying degrees of success either way.

  2. Penny says:

    What a wonderful photo capturing such a precious moment.

    Your children are beautiful.

    As you well know 🙂

  3. kortney says:

    Oh my heart! HUCK!

  4. Ellie says:

    Yeah, re Jo, I was going to say, Jo is based on Louisa, who did not marry, did she? So yeah, made sense to me …. And actually, the marriage LMA did end up creating for Jo seemed far more fitting anyhow — to me 🙂 seemed to me that she created the marriage and family life for Jo that she had hoped for ….

    Laurie, eh. Fine as a boy, bit useless as a man.

    • Melissa Wiley says:

      To me it always felt like we met a new set of characters in Little Men. I love Mother and Father Bhaer, but Mrs. B never felt much like JO to me. And grownup Laurie is a whole different dude. Too tame and comfortable by half. 🙂

      As a young reader, I was pretty crushed when Jo refused Laurie. And I was always a bit bothered by the Mr. Bhaer relationship—it felt unconvincing, for one thing; but I also deeply resented the way he dressed her down for writing pulp. The ‘I’m so disappointed in you’ tone. ::shudder:: Jo deserved to muddle through and find her own voice, her best voice, without the heavyhanded moralizing. I hated to see her so meek and chastened.

      Also, it’s amusing that LMA made Mr. B seem so OLD. Poor guy, he was only around 35, right?

      • tanita says:

        Hahahah! I think “old” Mr. B was only about thirty-five… ANCIENT, man.

        And, I agree: I really struggled with the Mr. Bhaer thing, it felt contrived and altogether uncomfortable and …weirdly parental, and I hated it. It really affected how I could read LITTLE MEN, which was unsuccessful as a favorite for me. The lesson I take from this as a writer is to write the book that makes ME happy, not my editor or readers, else it will seem altogether false.

        But, I love that your next class of learners is still discussing it vociferously, lo these many years later! And, I love that “each one, teach one” is the way the tide flows in learning The Tyger. That’s a lovely photo.

      • Ellie says:

        I suppose the way i see it is, since Jo is a variation of LMA, then LMA must’ve wanted what she gave Jo …. I always liked him, actually **bemused**

        Also, really, you don’t find grown up Jo to be Jo? Interesting. I see her as very Jo-like, just, all grown up and all …

        • Melissa Wiley says:

          Ellie, I wonder if Mr. Bhaer was more along the lines of what LMA *wished* she wanted, but didn’t actually want? I’m thinking of her 1883 interview with Louise Chandler Moulton, where Louisa said, “I am more than half-persuaded that I am a man’s soul, put by some freak of nature into a woman’s body … because I have fallen in love in my life with so many pretty girls and never once the least bit with any man.” (full text here)

          FWIW, although I felt Mrs. Bhaer was altogether too calm and matronly (apart from an occasional Jo-like outburst) to be ‘my’ Jo, I adored Little Men all on its own, and have probably read it more times than LW. You can draw a direct line from Plumfield to my little homeschool. 🙂 In fact—I mentioned this to Scott this morning and he was astonished that it had never come up before—in high school I wrote many iterations of a story which involved my time-traveling back to Plumfield and going to *that* school instead of my own. Plumfield fanfic, circa 1985! (blush)

      • sarah says:

        I’ve just finished (re)reading Tehanu by Ursula le Guin and in that the heroine Tenar says repeatedly how old she is, oh just an old woman – but I figure she can’t be more than 45, if that. It leaves me feeling rather despondent!

  5. Teresa Simmons says:

    Even now, in my forties, every time I come across a mention of Jo’s refusal I feel eleven years old again, sobbing my eyes out and clutching my book in utter despair. In fact, it took me until last year to finally read Little Men and — nope — I’m still not over it.

    … although the photo of your sweet kiddos does take the edge off of my bitterness;-)

    • Melissa Wiley says:

      “still not over it”—so true!!

      I have similar aching feelings about when Anne Shirley rejected Gilbert’s olive branch after he pulled her out of the water, even though things worked out between them in the end! My Jo-Laurie disappointment is a forever ache. 😉

  6. Sarah says:

    I think one of the reasons Mr Bhaer criticized her pulp writing is because he knew she would find success with it–it would be published, purchased, read and have all the outward marks of being ‘good’. I think he was hoping for something more thoughtful and honest from Jo and didn’t want her to throw her writing away on something less. It’s a little paternalistic, but I think it’s possible that he saw himself in the role of mentor to Jo.

    Anyway, I haven’t read it in a while, but I thought I’d throw my 2 cents in.

  7. mamacrow says:

    gosh, I must be the only person in the world who agreed with Jo that Laurie wasn’t right for her and loved that he ended up with Amy!

    I always saw Mr B – who I loved – as older. I was rather surprised when Gabriell Bryne (or however you spell him) was cast as him – far too young and smooth!

    I loved Little Men even more than Little Women & Good Wives – but then that was the life I always yearned for, a happy marriage and a house full of boys and babies – and luckily for me that’s what I got!

    I was far more flabbergasted with Judy marrying Daddy Long Legs.