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Work: A Story of Experience (Penguin Classics) Paperback – June 1, 1994


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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (June 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014039091X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140390919
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #70,697 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Louisa May Alcott was both an abolitionist and a feminist. She is best known for Little Women (1868), a semiautobiographical account of her childhood years with her sisters in Concord, Massachusetts. Alcott, unlike Jo, never married: '. . . because I have fallen in love with so many pretty girls and never once the least bit with any man. ' She was an advocate of women's suffrage and was the first woman to register to vote in Concord, Massachusetts. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Louisa May Alcott was both an abolitionist and a feminist. She is best known for Little Women (1868), a semi-autobiographical account of her childhood years with her sisters in Concord, Massachusetts. Alcott, unlike Jo, never married: "... because I have fallen in love with so many pretty girls and never once the least bit with any man." She was an advocate of women's suffrage and was the first woman to register to vote in Concord, Massachusetts.

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By amazon3131 on July 30, 2004
Format: Paperback
I ran across this book recently and enjoyed reading it. It is more modern than most Alcott books in one respect: the heroine exactly doesn't "get married and live happily ever after."

Like many of the books at the time, the heroine is an orphan. At the age of 21, she leaves her aunt and uncle to make her fortune in the world -- and, she hopes, her happiness, since marrying a farmer she doesn't love "just to get a living" doesn't seem either honest or wise to her.

The book covers almost twenty years in New England -- about ten years before the Civil War through about five years afterwards. The heroine is energetic, intelligent, determined, and capable. And she WORKS! She is always looking for a way to be useful, to pull her own weight, and to help others. The book chronicles her path through a series of jobs and the emotional, physical, and spiritual ups and downs that come with them.

What is most amazing is that the heroine meets a fugitive slave on her first job and treats her as an equal. Unlike "some of the other girls," she doesn't refuse the job simply because the cook is black.

The touching ending scene, in which a diverse group of women pledge to make a better world for themselves (and perhaps to get the right to vote), includes many of the friends she has encountered along the way, "black and white, rich and poor."

However, this beautiful example -- and for the time, this very daring example of inter-racial cooperation -- is marred somewhat by an unaccountable bigotry against the Irish. The anti-Irish comments are all the more jarring because they are completely gratuitous; they have no bearing on plot or character development.

The best that can be said about this failing is that perhaps the author was unconscious of her bigotry, and that at least the Irish are not mentioned often, although every mention is uniformly disparaging.
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Chrissy the Stooges Woman on November 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
If you've read and reread all of Louisa May Alcott's books, and loved her portrayals of brave girls trying to make their way in a harsh world, you must read this "lost" novel, "Work." It is well-written, engaging and humorous, very much in the same style as her other novels for girls, yet with more of a depth of maturity to her characters. If you've read "An Old Fashioned Girl" you will see a lot of "Polly" in the working girls portrayed in this novel. Read it and rejoice in this "new" Alcott novel!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book. Even though it was written well over a century ago some of its ideas seem very modern. Also has one of my favorite quotes, "She is too gond of books amf it has turned her brain"
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A reader on February 7, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I like Alcott's novels, but this was too much for me. All characters come out on top, nobody is really bad, and certainly nobody stays bad, everybody is constantly striving to become a saint and overcome any fault they might have. I just couldn't relate to the characters, they were just above and beyond normal human people. I actually found it depressing instead of inspiring. Her other books have some humor and often even sarcasm in them, which is sadly missing here till the very last chapter. The humor has always outbalanced the moralistic streak for me, but here I just felt stuck with a thinly veiled moralistic story, which often glided into pure kitsch. Also I felt I had read many of the elements in her other stories and they were just newly arranged and a little bit redecorated. The story could have done with some serious editing before its publication, as some of the chapters are interesting but are overshadowed by kitsch chapters.
I'm aware that a book from this time will be heavy on morals, try to uplift and inspire improvment in the reader, which I usually don't mind, but in this story it just didn't work for me, it felt to forced. "An old-fashioned Girl" is very similar, but is much more engaging and entertaining and inspires laughs along with the tears.

Just a note on this edition, it is extremly badly edited. There are a great many spelling mistakes which often completely distort the sense like "Clown" instead of "Down" and others. But the most annoying one is that the character Philip Fletcher becomes again and again Mr. Pletcher.
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