walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

_Work_, Louisa May Alcott (unfinished)

I'm not going to finish this. I read through Actress last night, and stupidly continued through Governess and Companion today, but Companion has done me in. As near as I can tell, no one noticed the heavy handed eugenics in this book, cause google finds me no indication that anyone has written it up.

_Work_ is an episodic novel about a young woman whose parents died when she was young and she was raised by a maternal uncle and his wife on their farm (at least, I think it was a farm). She goes off to make her way in the world, because Reasons. She tries a bunch of gigs; each chapter is one gig start to finish, with a lot of moralizing and Christie excelling and being cheerful and so forth. But in Companion, I met my match. I refuse to continue.

The invalid doesn't have TB or something infectious. Nope, she has insanity or madness, generally unspecified, which is believed to be hereditary in her father's family, which has the money. When the daughter is told she shouldn't marry and have kids because it is hereditary, she falls into a decline (actually spend a bunch of time in a room designed to keep herself from killing herself before graduating to more normal rooms where she hangs out with Christie -- if normal extends to the most amazing conservatory I've run into in 19th century fiction). She feels better hanging out with Christie hearing about Christie's various adventures, but younger sister has her coming out and someone is about to make an offer so Bella is about to be told and blah blah blah. Here is Christie's response to Helen's explanation (a lot of this is kept secret from Christie for a while). "The bitter grief, the solemn fervor of her words, both touched and awed Christie too much for speech. Helen had passed beyond the bounds of ceremony, fear, or shame: her hard lot, her dark experience, set her apart, and gave her the right to utter the bare truth. To her heart's core Christie felt that warning; and for the first time saw what many never see or wilfully deny, -- the awful responsibility that lies on every man and woman's soul forbidding them to entail upon the innocent the burden of their own infirmities, the curse that surely follows their own sins."

Sounds like eugenics to me, but whatever it is, it is def the author using Christie as a mouthpiece for People (Who Might Be) Subject to Mental Health Issues Such As Severe Depression and Suicidal Ideation/Attempts Should Not Have Kids. Period. End.


Good bye, _Work_. Apparently, the only books by Alcott I'm ever gonna love are _Eight Cousins_ and _Rose in Bloom_ which, honestly, are pretty deeply problematic but at least don't obviously suffer from this particular problem.

This was the library adult book group selection for Mayberry, NH (<-- not its real name) for the month of May. However, the May meeting was canceled for a variety of reasons and we will be discussing both _Gulp_ and _Work_ today. Which should make for an interesting combination.
Tags: book review, not-a-book-review

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