FROM JO MARCH'S ATTIC by Louisa May Alcott


Stories of Intrigue and Suspense
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 Alcott's alter ego, Jo March, the heroine of the morally uplifting Little Women, writes sensational tales up in the attic; since the mid-1970's, largely through the efforts of editors Stern and Shealy, Alcott's own sensational thrillers (replete with murder, sexual passion, and drug addiction) have been reprinted and correctly credited. Here, nine more tales are collected--tamer romantic melodramas tailored for the women's magazine market. The beautiful women in these stories are punished for their mistakes: greed or deception (even in a good cause) must be paid for with disfigurement or death--preferably suicide. In ``Fatal Follies,'' newlyweds--deeply in love--are driven to madness and death as ominous dreams, misunderstandings, and suspicion twist their passion. The settings are mostly European, the characters usually fortune-seekers and royalty. French phrases (often incorrect) are thrown about for flavor; references to India add additional exotic spice; ardent eyes strive to read fateful answers, while characters say things like ``permit me to assure you that the word `impossible' is unknown to me.'' Occasionally, goodness is rewarded or at least triumphant: a long-suffering poor relation (in ``Honor's Fortune'') and a runaway schoolboy disguised as a girl (in ``My Mysterious Mademoiselle'') impress their intended benefactors when they encounter them unknowingly by coincidence; in ``La Belle Bayadäre,'' a beautiful Hindu dancer humiliates the Englishman who once betrayed her. Amusing period pieces--all written for the flamboyant woman editor of Frank Leslie's Lady's Magazine: the stories and Stern's introduction add to our picture of Alcott, as well as of the development of commercial women's writing in America. (Illustrations)

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1994
ISBN: 1-55553-177-6
Page count: 160pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1993


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