The Inheritance

The Inheritance

4.2 12
by Louisa May Alcott
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Louisa May Alcott, who spent much of her childhood amid an intellectual circle that included Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Thoreau, and Nathaniel Hawthorne, embarked on her own literary efforts at an early age. Her recently discovered first novel, The Inheritance, written when Alcott was just 17, offers readers a fascinating look at the birth of a remarkable

…  See more details below

Overview

Louisa May Alcott, who spent much of her childhood amid an intellectual circle that included Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Thoreau, and Nathaniel Hawthorne, embarked on her own literary efforts at an early age. Her recently discovered first novel, The Inheritance, written when Alcott was just 17, offers readers a fascinating look at the birth of a remarkable career.Influenced by the melodrama of the contemporary theater, the sentimental romances she read as a child, and the popular gothic novels of the time, Alcott weaves a tale far removed from the reality of her everyday life in Boston. The Inheritance, set in an English country manor, is the story of Edith Adelon, an Italian orphan brought to England by Lord Hamilton as a companion for his children. With a charm reminiscent of Jane Austen's novels, Alcott's plot sets love and courtesy against depravity and dishonor — and with the help of a secret inheritance, allows virtue to prevail.In their Introduction, Joel Myerson and Daniel Shealy relate their fortuitous discovery of Alcott's manuscript draft of The Inheritance (preserved at the Houghton Library of Harvard). They explore the forces — both literary and personal — that shaped the novel, and study how it foreshadowed Alcott's later work.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Cahners\\Publishers_Weekly
Dutton compares Alcott's recently discovered, charming first novel (written in 1849, when she was just 17) to those of Jane Austen. The comparison is apt, even if Alcott, though impressively accomplished for her age, can't match Austen for smart dialogue or lived-in characters. In fact, the novel is pure romance and reads like a fairy tale. Set in a manor house somewhere in England, it tells of two virtuous lovers separated by rank and the machinations of a jealous interloper. Alcott's heroine is a lovely Italian orphan with a mysterious past (and the wonderfully un-Italian name of Edith Adelon). The hero, Lord Percy ("Would to heaven I were a peasant"), is chivalrous, handsome and resigned to a life of loneliness after the loss of an early love. Will fate bring them together? Of course it will. Meanwhile, Alcott trots her characters through a delightful series of vignettes: an overheard garden colloquy, a candlelight boating party, a revealing round of tableaux vivants, a discovered theft, a deathbed promise-and the inevitable unearthing of a missing will that explains Edith's lineage. Alcott handles all of this machinery with aplomb and winning earnestness. According to the scholars who recently found the manuscript in Harvard's Houghton Library, The Inheritance is the novel Jo March writes in Little Women. Whether this is true or not, The Inheritance proves that years before Alcott invented the young adult novel, she could already give voice to the preoccupations and fantasies of the "little women" who would become her most enduring subjects.
Children's Literature - Gisela Jernigan
When two researchers were looking through some of the Alcott family documents, they came across a manuscript titled in Louisa's hand, "My first novel written at seventeen." They soon realized that this romantic novel must be the very "poor little romance" that Jo March wrote and sent off "into the big busy world to try its fate" in the classic Little Women. This "little romance." now published for the first time, is set in an English country manor in early Victorian times. It tells the dramatic story of Edith Adelon, a poor, but beautiful, talented, and above all, virtuous Italian orphan, who was adopted by a wealthy English family as a child. After many misunderstandings brought about by Lady Ida, a malicious and envious family member, Edith becomes even more esteemed by her adopted family and wins the love of a handsome, kind neighbor, Lord Percy. Alcott fans should enjoy reading this early work that reveals hints of how her more mature, skilled works will be written.
School Library Journal
YA -- Alcott's first novel, written at age 17 and discovered in 1988, is a delightful rags-to-riches ramble in the life of orphan Edith Adelon, who is taken in by Lord and Lady Hamilton to serve as a companion to their young daughter, Amy. When Lord Hamilton dies, Edith is treated as a servant in the householduntil she saves Amy's life. Purer than pure, young Edith takes the slights and verbal abuses of her jealous rival, Lady Ida, while Lord Percy, an older, wiser, and sadder friend of young Lord Arthur Hamilton and the reason for Lady Ida's jealousy, looks on in his attempts to love Edith from a distance. Set on an aristocratic English manor in the 19th century, the plot twists and turns its way to a "happily ever after" ending. Even though characters are stereotyped and the plot is at times contrived, this precursor of Little Women is sure to be popular among budding readers of Jane Austen or sprouting young writers looking for desirable role models. This squeaky-clean novel written by an outstanding author at the beginning of her career is a desirable addition to any YA collection.Dottie Kraft, formerly at Fairfax County Public Schools, VA

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780140436662
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
02/28/1998
Pages:
208
Sales rank:
210,188
Product dimensions:
5.07(w) x 7.67(h) x 0.55(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Louisa May Alcott was born in Pennsylvania, in 1832, the second of four daughters. After a period of serving as an army nurse, she published Hospital Sketches in 1863, followed by Gothic Romances and lurid thrillers. In 1868-9, she published Little Women, which proved so popular that it was followed by two sequels and several other novels. She died in 1888.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >