The theme of the week for a little photo challenge was 'book' which reminded me to write about one the most moving read aloud's we have shared together. The Christmas before last Asher sent us an edition of Little Women, carefully reworked by U-Star Novels. This company inserts personal names in place of your choice of characters from classic literature, leaving the rest of the text untouched. (no compensation happening here fwiw! will add the disclaimer that some of their titles are racy) Being a bookish boy, he leapt on this idea, and chose Little Women for his four little sisters and mother. Hence the March sisters became Alannah, Moira, Therese and Abbie and their personalities and stories intertwined with our own throughout the long leisurely months we have lived with them.
Originally we had not intended to read so slowly. However, another international move came up. Then Alannah went to work fulltime and couldn't bear for us to read without her. As our evenings and weekends filled up with new activities there was less time with all seven at home at once and able to read together. So we began to sneak in a chapter on our own while she was gone. Then another. Then we couldn't stop. ; )
Now we are coming to the end of this story but these stories are part of us forever. My quote book is full of thoughts we have mulled over. Virtue versus vice, status versus family, industry versus idleness. How to be a real man as well as a noble woman. How best to find peace, both in oneself and in marriage and family. It turns out that it was a blessing the reading spread out as long as it did. It became a curriculum of sorts, a life manual for us all.
There has been a downside. We saw it coming early on when one older child said WAIT! Doesn't someone die?? And Asher, a bit regretfully, remembered yes. We braced ourselves for that part, but as a mama reading the words aloud I still completely fell apart when the fateful chapter finally arrived. It took two separate tissue breaks to get through it, devoted as we had become to the sisters and impossible as it was, by that time, to really completely separate our angel from theirs. (fortunately our angel was a bit oblivious to 'her' demise ; ))
It may not work that way for everyone but, in our case, Louisa's views match my own so well that I could not have imparted these lessons better than Marmee did. It's been years since I have read or seen anything Louisa May Alcott and I am not eager to view a film version any time soon. I just want to hang onto my own images and think longer on what we have read and talked about. The the bittersweet aspect of 'living books' is the hangover of sorts left after the closing chapter, where you cannot conceive of cheating on the characters by loving another book. Ever. But of course there will be more. They too will move us. There are others vying for our hearts even as I type...
For this, I am so very grateful.