Read Work: A Story of Experience by Louisa May Alcott Online

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Alcott's concerns about social justice, women's work, domesticity, and community lie at the heart of this provocative novel.In this story of a woman's search for a meaningful life, Alcott moves outside the family setting of her best known works. Originally published in 1872, Work is both an exploration of Alcott's personal conflicts and a social critique, examining women'sAlcott's concerns about social justice, women's work, domesticity, and community lie at the heart of this provocative novel.In this story of a woman's search for a meaningful life, Alcott moves outside the family setting of her best known works. Originally published in 1872, Work is both an exploration of Alcott's personal conflicts and a social critique, examining women's independence, the moral significance of labor, and the goals to which a woman can aspire. Influenced by Transcendentalism and by the women's rights movement, it affirms the possibility of a feminized utopian society....

Title : Work: A Story of Experience
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ISBN : 17913939
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 645 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Work: A Story of Experience Reviews

  • Duane
    2018-08-19 02:09

    Little Women it's not, but it does show the ability of Alcott to tackle serious, important social issues. In this case it's the independence of womem in the 19th century and their entry into work outside the home, contributing to their self support and the support of their families. It's the story of a young woman, Christy, who fit's the mold of a typical Alcott character, strong willed, smart, high moral values, and determined to succeed in a male dominated world. If you liked Alcott's other novels you will probably like this one as well.

  • Teresa
    2018-08-08 03:01

    3.5As a child, I read my copy of Little Women multiple times and then checked out from the library the rest of Alcott’s writings for young people. As an adult, when Alcott's ‘sensation’ stories— originally published anonymously or under a pseudonym — came to light, I read those. I didn’t know of her novels for adults published under her own name until relatively recently: I read the first of these—Moods (written before Little Women) — last year and now this one (written after Little Men).Though Christie, the main character, is not Alcott, I’m guessing she shares some of Alcott’s traits, including feeling irked at a young male character’s treating her paternally, and I know she shares much of Alcott’s own work experiences (the subtitle is important). Christie leaves her uncle’s home to earn her living, not an easy thing for a woman in the 19th-century of course. Christie becomes, in turn, a servant, an actress, a governess, a companion and a seamstress before finding a safe landing-place after some horrific experiences. Afterward, she is a florist, a Civil War nurse (as was Alcott) and an activist for working women not offering pity as an alms, but justice as a right and content to lay the foundation…whose happy success I may never see. Yet I had rather be remembered as those brave beginners are…While the first half can be repetitive, the themes and how Alcott writes of them are what is most intriguing and ahead of its time. (Originally, this book was two volumes, the second of which was titled Beginning Again, a Continuation of Work.) The phrase “angel in the house” is stated once, but Christie becomes much more than that, especially as she is not of the class that this phrase is normally attributed to (Christie’s father was an impoverished gentleman, but her mother was a farmer’s daughter); later there is a distinction made between "ladies" and "(working-) women". In the second half, during the Civil War, within the story of an obligatory love triangle (reminiscent of the one in Constance Fenimore Woolson’s Anne), controversial ideas for the time abound. The husband of one of Christie’s friends asks why he should go fight for the sake of the slaves (he calls them by another name) and his wife responds …ain’t you got no heart? can you…call them poor, long-sufferin’ creeters names? Later, a blameless male “hero” says he “owed” the potential sacrificing of his life to a female slave he doesn't knows. (The novel was published in 1873.)As did Little Women’s Jo, Christie discovers that work can be a consolation during hard times, ultimately stating that she owes everything she can do to work and the efforts and the experiences that grew out of it, which is how she found independence, education, happiness, and religion. As far as that “religion” goes, orthodoxy is not at all what Alcott is espousing. And, yet, though Alcott professed to be tired of writing “moral pap for the young”, some of this may feel that way to modern-day readers.The most intriguing thing for me is how Alcott wrangles—as she did in Little Women (though in a different way)—a completely “feminine household” from her story before it is all over with: a loving league of sisters, old and young, black and white, rich and poor.The book also contains one of my favorite quotes (said of Christie by an unsympathetic character): She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain.

  • Reagan Ramsey
    2018-08-18 03:03

    This is the last book that L.M.A. penned before she died and it is one of my favorites. It is the story of a young woman named Christie who goes out to make her way in the world by working. The first half of the book is a bit disjointed; not tedious, exactly, but it doesn't feel as cohesive a part of the overall story as the last half. But it does provide context and shows that struggles Christie has as a single woman are what prepares her for the next chapter of her life, where she finds real friendship and love.I love the way Alcott paints characters who prove that ambition and simple values aren't mutually exclusive; that it's possible to be independent and mix with the world without becoming a callous and selfish member of it. She shows the real obstacles that sometimes stand in the way of love and accomplishment, but that there is always hope in the road ahead.

  • Marian
    2018-07-30 02:49

    I loved this book. I can forgive Alcott anything, and her preachiness is endearing to me - so mostly this book just feels like another old friend right off the bat. The lead character, Christy, is lovable and forgivable. Her friends, though frequently superficially rendered, still liven the world and prove L. M. Alcott a rebel. A radical preacher, an ex-slave, a prostitute, a washer woman -- they are the best teachers of this novel, while the rich/educated/privileged are left to learn from Christy as best they can. Good intentions or not, they can not teach Christy anything it seems. A criticism of luxury if ever there was one. And indeed, the book is pointedly that; entitled "work" it is a testament to what we gain and lose in its struggle, and the peace that can come for working towards something more important than wealth or one's own self-interest. If you can take this as a work in the vein of "Little Women" -- both of its time and sentiment -- and if you loved "Little Women" -- you will appreciate and maybe adore this book. It is an adult novel in a way that "Little Women" is not, but it has the same heart.

  • Margaret
    2018-08-07 02:11

    Work uses many of Alcott's own experiences. She is specifically interested here in examining how women might find meaningful, fulfilling work. Her heroine, Christie, like Alcott herself, goes through a number of jobs -- seamstress, servant, companion, governess, actress (Alcott was never a professional actress, but loved to write and act in plays) -- before finding a place for herself in a domestic, idealistic, female-centered setting. Other bits and pieces of Alcott's life are echoed here, like her temptation to throw herself off a bridge in a particularly bad moment, and some of her characters are based on people she knew, like Thoreau and Theodore Parker. It's a little disjointed and episodic to start out, as Christie goes through her series of jobs, but the second half is more collected. Though Alcott does tend to moralize, her portrait of women helping each other is a hopeful one, and she doesn't pull her punches in her realistic examination of women's place in society in her time. In a way, her central concern isn't that different from Little Women, which is also much concerned with its heroines' search to find places for themselves as they grow up.

  • notRahimeanymore
    2018-08-18 06:02

    I cried so much! Also realized that I really appreciate and miss books where a main object of the story is striving to be a better person. Guess I should be reading more 'old-fashioned' things.

  • Ruth Ann
    2018-07-27 06:07

    I love Louisa May Alcott. WOMAN POWER! The heroine Christie Devon goes out into the world to make her living after being raised by an aunt and uncle. She spends time in most of the occupations open to women in the 1850s: seamstress, governess, housemaid, companion to an invalid, and eventually takes up nursing at the front lines during the Civil War. She's incredibly plucky and when life is difficult, women support each other in ways the men around them barely comprehend.One jarring note, an artifact of the era I guess. Although Christie embraces friendships with a black woman (an escaped slave) and a 'fallen woman' (whose sin was not detailed but evidently took a lover without benefit of marriage), as well as other women of every age and social class, she apparently despises the Irish and there doesn't seem any hint that she sees this as inconsistent with her open and welcoming attitude to others.

  • April
    2018-07-28 07:05

    I went into this book expecting to feel as I usually do with Alcott novels - a kind of apathy. I was truly impressed with this read. Alcott is still didactic as ever, and there is a wee bit of condescension here, but that is overwhelmed by the truly wonderful aspects about this novel. There is a sweetness mixed with ideas on the verge of "radical", which make for an interesting read. The text seemingly contradicts itself and yet I feel like that there may be a kind of dialectic here? Maybe? I don't know, I am rambling...but I really think the book quite brilliant. I think it significant that the protagonist's life (the novel) does not end with marriage. It is intriguing and, as a last confession, it touched me. I cared about these characters.

  • Mahjong_kid
    2018-07-30 04:53

    While I grew up loving Alcott's fiction, I had to admit to myself that sometimes she was overly preachy and took a few too many opportunities to present an object lesson or praise her "ideal" character. That tendency was largely a reflection of her time, when the main purpose of literature for women and children was to encourage them to be "good." Nevertheless, I stuck with this book until the end - partly to avoid having another unfinished book weighing on my conscience, and partly because Alcott does have flashes of interesting character development. Also, the Civil War era is not so far removed from living memory, and it's intriguing to glimpse the views of a somewhat progressive woman of the time.

  • Ana Rînceanu
    2018-08-09 04:57

    Christie is determined to be independent from her aunt and uncle so she goes to the city to get work. She starts out as a maid, then an actress and so on. The pride of being useful is sometimes obscured by the pain of poverty and the danger of a possibly "soiled reputation" (which can be gained by being kind to a prostitute or attracting the fancy of a male employer). Many more adventures follow.The romantic elements of the book was a little boring, but I'm glad to have read this book. A quick and pleasant read.

  • El
    2018-08-08 06:55

    Along the same lines of the Ragged Dick stories, Alcott uses Christie Devon to show the difficulties in finding a job encountered by young women in the late 19th century. Christie is a standard Alcott character - independent and ambitious with a desire to be more than just a woman in the world. She chooses a variety of different occupations popular during that time and for one reason or another finds it inappropriate or fails.Like Algers's Ragged Dick stories, at times the book was tedious and soapboxey. Ultimately Christie made a decision that bugged me the same way Jo's decision at the end of Little Women bugged me; for all of the ranting and raving about the expectations of women to settle down and get married and pop out some kids, that's exactly how Alcott's women wind up.Still, it's a good read, not one of the more common Alcott titles and important in its own right.

  • Madeline Dyer
    2018-07-22 09:09

    For me, WORK is a complicated novel. It falls between Alcott's sensation fiction and her sentimental stories. It partly reads as a bildungsroman as we follow Christie's life as she grows up and seeks work, and then descends into a complicated exploration of the links between madness and suicide at two different points. At least one of those chapters however, originally appeared as a standalone sensation short story. But there is a lot of sensation, and a lot of darkness in this novel. I wrote my dissertation on WORK, along with two of Alcott's other sensational tales, A LONG FATAL LOVE CHASE and "Pauline's Passion and Punishment"--so whenever I think of any of these texts, I have mixed feelings. Mainly because writing the dissertation was so stressful!But all three of these texts are definitely ones I'd recommend. They're so different from Alcott's most popular novel, LITTLE WOMEN, and definitely are not written for children. These are dark tales.

  • Hortensia
    2018-07-22 05:48

    Eh.... The first half of this is very good to be assigned in pieces (or totality) in a class on women and work in the late nineteenth century. It's about a young woman who goes to the city looking for work, and all the different jobs that she takes, one after another. The second half is more of a love story. She falls in love with an ingenuous guy from the country--not the rich guy from the city that some of us today would expect. I liked (and wondered a lot about) this point. Is Alcott reflecting the more mainstream attitudes of her culture toward the dangerous and acquisitive vices of the city, or is she doing something very unique in deliberately turning away from that trope in her contemporary fiction? I haven't read enough fiction from that time (1880s I think) to know for sure. A great discussion piece for a class on women and work. Again, nice that it is in the public domain.

  • Nancy
    2018-07-31 08:49

    This book tell of the many jobs and struggles of Christie, who is a young woman determined to make her own way through life. Christie helps a lot of people, and when she gets sick, and has debts to pay, people help her to get back on her feet. She thinks she will not marry, but she finds her soul mate, and marries, only to have him taken from her, as he joins the army during the Civil War. She finds herself pregnant, which gives her a reason to live. Christie goes on to help more women.

  • Amy C
    2018-07-21 08:50

    Amazing look at Civil War New England and women that had to work to survive. A rumor from a distant town of inappropriate behavior with a man gets you fired. The Irish cook refusing to work with the black maid. Very interesting.

  • Moonlight Reader
    2018-07-23 04:10

    3 1/2 stars. Reviewhere.

  • Claire S
    2018-08-03 06:49

    Apparently Louisa wrote negatively of any Irish character in this book, that's bleak.

  • Lauren Basson
    2018-08-07 04:54

    You don't have to agree with her views on religion or war, to appreciate how comforting this book can be when one is feeling lost and/or lonely. Much like 'Little Women' it celebrates the strength that women can draw from one another, the beauty of all they can be and a sweet love story.

  • Marcy
    2018-07-20 01:49

    Such a beautiful and sad story!

  • T.
    2018-07-20 07:00

    I enjoyed this semi-autobiographical work as it presented life situations and job opportunities, or lack thereof, for a young woman of the author's time.

  • Olivia
    2018-08-04 09:06

    I absolutely loved this book. Louisa May Alcott did a wonderful job of relating the tale of the trials a tribulations a young person may encounter when throwing themselves into the working world. Christie starts the story as a young woman of 21 and ends as an experienced, intelligent, and well rounded woman in her mid to late 40s. Her trials start out as the average trouble of finding a job, and a place to live in her new-found freedom. She ends up holding a total of 5 legitimate jobs, and she lives in 2 places in which she sort of works around the house to pay her way. All of her occupations challenges her to develop new skills to help her succeed in her job and in life. By being a maid to the she learns the basic functions in a household so that when she has her own she may know how to take care of it. Her career as an actress reminds her, and the reader, that life is not all about fun and games. One cannot forget that it takes hard work, and discipline to make it in society. All of her other jobs taught her similar life lessons. I found the book to be quite enjoyable as a whole because I liked being able to feel Christie going through her troubles. Louisa May Alcott makes her characters very easy to relate to, and Christie is no exception. Louisa illustrates Christie going through tough times, and shows the reader what is viable to happen during those times which could happen to any person. Christie says to her dear friend Rachel, " 'I have been ill; I worked too hard; I'm not myself to-night. I owe money. People disappoint and worry me; and I was so worn out, and weak, and wicked, I think I meant to take my life' "(Alcott 125). This happens at times, and it is an example of Christie's humanity. In some stories characters seem very inhuman and perfect, but this shows the character that Christie is the exact opposite. When she and David go off to war they both face the reality that one, if not both, of them may not survive the violence of the Civil War. When David passes away Christie is able to stay strong, but she is still struck down by the suddenness of his death. Although it was a blow to her she is able to stay strong through it. She was able to learn from her experiences as a working girl, and use them in her own life to be prosperous. I find the theme of this book to be a wonderful concept of hard work, determination, and love. I enjoyed it very much and hope to re-read it again sometime.

  • Humphrey
    2018-07-20 03:52

    Work is likely to feel a bit odd for someone coming from either the Little Women side of Alcott's writing or the Long Fatal Love Chase side. There are basically three parts: an odyssey of employment, a romance plot, and the Civil War twist. The second is the least interesting. The third is quite interesting primarily as a formal mechanism upsetting the seemingly conventional conclusions of the second section. While that is great, it makes the first section probably the most interesting to read. It's a novel clearly relates to the Ragged Dick-variety of hard-work-and-luck-pay-off novels, but it makes several important changes by expanding the category of work and theorizing it spiritually while insisting that not all work is good work and that its usefulness is shaped by the context in which it takes places. Though slow at times (particularly the middle section), it was a more enjoyable novel than some reviews had led me to expect.

  • Nidhi
    2018-08-14 03:47

    I like Louisa May Alcott's writing. This book was an interesting read and I started reading it for two reasons. Firstly, I wanted to read Alcott extensively. Secondly, I have been trying to explore the idea of 'experience' and its rootedness in practice. Therefore, I chose Alcott's this particular book to understand her articulation of experience. Alcott discusses the experience of the protagonist Christie as she engages with different kinds of work and how each experience of work changed her and added to her sense of self. Reflective action is a big part of Christie's journey. However, circumstances seem to have a big role to play in her life. There are a lot of things that happened to her and she is trying to understand these bittersweet happenings. Yet, it would be wrong to say that circumstances ruled Christie's life. She took decisions and had the courage to face the consequences of her decisions. Her meeting with Rachel and her stand to support Rachel, which led to increased her difficulties is one such example that showed a rare courage in a female character. The book is a reflection of the socio-political situation of that particular time period. Through Christie's eyes, Alcott gives us a rare opportunity to visit a particular era in American history. The book provides a glimpse of this era from a woman's perspective and through her life's journey. Christie's journey adds another interesting angle of class to her perspective. Christie's work experiences are spread to different classes of the society. She began her work as an actor, which was not considered a respectable profession. Then she works with the rich families in two different roles. After leaving her job of a companion to a rich girl, she begins to sew and interacts with the working class girls. She saw poverty and debt too, and the became a social worker. There are many interesting facets to her experience. However, I must admit that I loved her book 'Little Women' much more than this book. It sometimes became too dull especially when Christie is portrayed as too self-sacrificing. Christie's character is written as a self-abnegating girl, which creates an opportunity to question.

  • rr
    2018-08-07 02:52

    Given my fond memories of Little Women, I was interested to read some of Alcott's writing for an adult audience. Work is a more finished piece than A Long Fatal Love Chase, which I also read recently. Work is also more of a thought-piece, and there are times when I felt that the narrative of Christie's varied career as an independent woman was a relatively flimsy yet convenient structure (or enabling excuse?) for Alcott's articulation of her ideas about women, slavery, and society. The narrative gains momentum of its own when the novel reaches the section about David, and a romance emerges out of Christie's series of jobs. I felt bad/guilty that my interest was better engaged once there was a love interest, but I think that the plot finally became a plot, rather than a row of episodes, at that point.The romance/marriage portion of the novel fits uneasily with the rest in other ways, too. So much of the novel concerns women's relationships with other women, and the book ends with a beautiful, if somewhat artificial, circle of female friends committed to doing various kinds of work in the world. Christie herself is poised to become a spokesperson for women's suffrage, and there's a suggestion that that's the trajectory she's been on all along, unwittingly. But if David hadn't died, Christie would probably not have entered the public dialogue about women's rights. From this perspective, it's odd for participation in the women's rights movement to be both a culmination of Christie's career and a "second best" option. So perhaps this is a problematic feature of the novel's construction. Yet it's also a fair-enough reflection of the contradictions contained in women's desires for independence and for love in the 19th century (and the 21st).

  • Caroline Bennett
    2018-08-14 05:13

    Structurally, this read a lot like Gobbolino the Witch's Cat. It feels like it was written in serial form (not sure if it was) and though she tried to weave the characters back in at the end I'd forgotten who some of them were. Who was Bella?! That might be my own fault as I took a long time to get into it. Having said that, it is not lacking in the Louisa May Alcott charm. Christie is likeable and I wanted her to succeed but I was never in the depths of despair with her, even when she was thinking of ending it all.It felt a bit essayish, which LMA is prone to but more so than normal. Jo of little women has a streak of aggression running through her, Polly in An Old Fashioned Girl has a chip on her shoulder, but Christie felt too balanced for someone with her upbringing. There are good bits of narration and the civil war bit was interesting.

  • Sharon
    2018-08-17 05:54

    "Work: A Story of Experience" introduces readers to Christie Devon. She is a bookish girl, but also one with an independent streak. She decides to leave the quiet life with her aunt and uncle who have reared her and go out into the world.This book sees her working as a seamstress, a governess, an actress, a laundress and even assisting a florist. She has suitors now and again, but once she is past the age of 30 she settles into what she believes will be a companionable spinsterhood working with the poor.Of course, astute readers of Victorian-era romances will know that nothing can be this easily, and that she will fall in love. This was an entertaining book, and one that Alcott's fans are sure to enjoy.

  • Denise
    2018-08-03 05:15

    In some ways this is a very timely book, with so many young adults searching desperately for work that will feed them, body and soul. It's nearly impossible to dislike Christie, Alcott's alter ego, because she tries so very hard to Be Good and to Do Good. On the other hand, sincere do-gooders have done immense harm to the world, from the health care mess of today which puts the hardest burdens on those same underpaid young adults, to the well-meaning abolitionists who got 630,000 people killed. The moralizing gets to be a bit much, but the melodrama keeps you reading. And the more I read about Alcott's father, the more respect I have for Louisa and her "scribblings" which put food on the family table when he didn't.

  • Mia
    2018-08-19 07:59

    The first half of the book is perhaps most interesting and its chapters very simply refer to the various positions the protagonist (Christie Devon) obtains. Chapter one is simply "Christie," but chapter two is "Servant," three is "Actress," four is "Governess," five is "Companion," and six is "Seamstress." It is during that chapter that Christie becomes ill and cannot regain her financial independence, and subsequent chapters are more about her emotional recovery and maturation (putting this solidly in the Bildungsroman tradition). By the end, she has found "true love" as well as a desire to make a difference in society through helping establish support networks for women, something sorely needed at the time since society made earning their own living a decided impossibility.

  • Kim
    2018-07-31 05:15

    I thought I had read all of Luisa May Alcott's books. I enjoy her children's literature and read Little Women every Christmas season. I was walking through the library one day and saw this title on the shelf, it looked interesting. Then I saw who the author was and I got very excited. Louisa May Alcott wrote more than just books for children, she wrote books for adults, mostly women. She wrote about Women's Suffrage; their sufferings, their struggles and their hopes and fears. I truly enjoyed this book, even though the ending was sad for me. I encourage anyone who is a Alcott fan to read this book.

  • Bethany Turner
    2018-08-03 06:57

    Work is a semi-autobiographical novel as it depicts many of the jobs LMA had before becoming an author. It is one of the “several nineteenth-cemtry novels which uncovers the changes in women’s work in the industrial era. The main character, Christie Devon, works outside the home in a variety of different jobs, but the end of her story makes the beginning of a new career as a voice and activist for other working women.