A treasured classic
Release Date: 1876
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry
This book a sequel to Eight Cousins. It was originally published in 1876 as a contemporary novel. Rose was 13 in Eight Cousins and is currently 20 years old. She just spent two years traveling all over Europe with her guardian, Uncle Alec, while her best friend, Phebe, studied music and improved her amazing voice. Rose informally adopted Phebe soon after they first met when Rose was 13 and Phebe was 15. Like Rose, 22-year-old Phebe is an orphan, but instead of being an heiress who is part of a large, loving family like Rose, Phebe was a foundling.
Rose is amazed at how mature and grown up her seven male cousins are. Archie and Charlie are 23, and Archie is soberly working for rich, merchant Uncle Mac, while Charlie, son of a rich ship captain, is a social butterfly. Mac, like Phebe, is 22. He plans to become a doctor and will study with Uncle Alec, who has been a doctor for many years. Steve is 20 and seems to do nothing but go to high-society events. Will is 19, and Geordie is 18, both of them attending a military academy. Jamie is 13 and acts as if he’s about 8-9 years old, perhaps because he’s the baby of the family.
Rose is dismayed to discover, when Jamie blurts it out, that her relatives hope she will marry one of her cousins and keep herself (and her large fortune) in the family. Archie’s mother, Aunt Jesse, and Mac’s father, Uncle Mac, hope Rose will marry sober, reliable Archie. Charlie’s mother, Aunt Clara–and Charlie himself–think he’s the man for Rose, but unfortunately, he has a drinking problem that disgusts virginal Rose. No one but Uncle Alec thinks that Mac is the cousin with the most potential to make Rose a good husband. Mac is unpolished and bluntly spoken, but he is brilliant, multi-talented, and as honest as the day is long with no bad habits.
Where Eight Cousins is clearly a children’s book, this story is geared more for older girls in their teens and might, today, be called “young adult.” In the nineteenth century, though, all ages read these books.
Most people purchasing this classic story will have read and treasured it in their childhood and desire to either re-read it themselves or hand it on to a child or grandchild. I read this book so many times in my childhood, I practically had it memorized. I was happy to discover that, after many decades since I had last experienced it, this book was just as delightful a read for me now as it was when I was young. It is not called a “classic” for nothing.
I rate this book as follows:
Family Drama Plot: 5
Romance Plot: 5