In an old-fashioned girl, we follow the tale of Polly Milton, a young girl leaving her simple country life to stay at the home of her wealthy cousins in the city. Polly doesn’t wear fancy clothes, doesn’t have much money, doesn’t attend the theatre, and she doesn’t act like all the other girls in town. Will this old-fashioned girl be tempted by the excitement and intrigues of city life, or will she stand ground and be true to herself?
An old-fashioned girl. You had me at the title. Because if you did not know it yet, I am a massive old-fashioned girl myself, doing all the typical grandma stuff — I look like 16, I feel like 60, but I’m 21. So when this book sparked my attention, and I discovered it was written by one of my all-time favourite authors, Louisa May Alcott, I just knew this granny had to put this book on her bedside table.
Well, let’s start off with the bad news: this book isn’t as good as Little Women. However, the two novels do remind me of each other, as both focus on powerful and independent girls growing up in poor society. Also, some characters in an old-fashioned girl distinctly reminded me of Laurie and Meg in LW. I wonder if anyone else felt the same way?
All this aside, I felt a real connection with the main character, and old-fashioned girl, Polly. She is selfless, kind, thrifty, and caring. She likes to make things herself, hangs out with the “old people”, and doesn’t dress up. However, this also leads her to be considered childish by her female friends in the city. An assumption which occasionally makes Polly doubt herself, but overall doesn’t stop her from being the person who she is. But even if you’re not a granny like me, I think many of us can recognise themselves in Polly’s story. It ain’t easy growing up in our modern society, with social media telling you 24/7 what to do.
I absolutely loved the values Polly shares through her sermons. Some might find them to be a bit too preachy though, as well as Polly’s character. She pleases everyone with her goodness and simplicity, sprinkling joy around as confetti wherever she goes. You simply can’t find fault within her. Nonetheless, I wish this novel was an acquired read for every child. It might be moralizing, but the story still offers some incredibly valuable lessons, which could be of good use in our back-stabbing and selfish society.
I would have loved to see more of Polly’s artistic friends though, whom we meet for the first time in the second part of the novel. They don’t give a fig about money, fashion, or gender expectations, and have this insane drive to make their dreams reality. The fact that they only appeared in one chapter truly disappointed me. It gave me a little glimpse into the beginning of the suffragette movement, but one not long enough.
Nevertheless, this is a book I can see myself reading over and over again, picking it up when I need to bit of simplicity and motivation, or when our self-obsessed and materialistic world is getting me down again. If you love Louisa May Alcott’s writing just as much as I do, or if you’re living the granny-life, this is the book for you.
- Title: An Old-Fashioned Girl
- Author: Louisa May Alcott
- Published: 1870
- Pages: 304
- Rating: 4/5
- Get your copy here!