Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Inheritance

Title: The Inheritance

Series: None

Year: 1997 (published posthumously)

Author: Louisa May Alcott

Summary: Here at last is the book 'Jo' wrote. Generations of fans have longed to plumb that first romance, hinted at so captivatingly on the pages of Little Women, Alcott's autobiographical classic. Now after nearly one hundred fifty years spent among archived family documents, Louisa May Alcott's debut novel finally reaches its eager public.

Set in an English country manor, the story follows the turbulent fortunes of Edith Adelon, an impoverished Italian orphan whose loyalty and beauty win her the patronage of wealthy friends until a jealous rival contrives to rob her of her position. In the locket around her neck, she carries a deep secret about her natural birthright. But an even greater truth lies hidden in Edith's heart - her deep reverence for the kind and noble Lord Percy, the only friend who can save her from the deceitful, envious machinations of Lady Ida.

Reminiscent of Jane Austen in its charms, this chaste but stirringly passionate novel affirms the conquering power of both love and courtesy. For the generations who grew up alongside Jo, Meg, Beth, and Amy, a rich literary inheritance is restored at last. (from Goodreads)

Main Characters:
~ Edith Adelon
~ Lord Walter Percy
~ Lady Ida
~ Lord Arlington
~ Arthur Hamilton
~ Amy Hamilton

Review: Although The Inheritance lacked the deep characters that I found in Louisa May Alcott's other books (namely Little Women), it was definitely something sweet to read. It's not extremely long, but the characters stick with you long after you've put the book down. There's just a little bit of everything in this novel to recommend it to everyone: for those who love Alcott's writing, for those who prefer classic romances, for those who want something light and sweet to fritter away an afternoon. The Inheritance is simplistic in its characters, plot, and style as Alcott penned the entire novella at only 17 years of age. The manuscript wasn't published until 1997, years after Alcott had died, when it was discovered accidentally in an old library. I found for a novella written at 17 years old, The Inheritance was an excellent example of Alcott's talent rather than a story that gripped your interest and kept you turning pages like most modern books. Actually, I liked the chance to read something different; it was greatly refreshing.

Edith Adelon is a servant/governess/companion in the Hamilton household, and her goal in life is to serve her mistress and master to the best of her ability. While she comes across at times as being too perfect, Edith is not quite the ideal Mary Sue. She yearns to help those she meets, yet she fears how her life may change in the future. She's quiet, she's meek, and very Cinderella-like in spirit. Lady Ida is the spiteful cousin who is jealous of Edith's beauty and tries to push her out of the picture. The Hamilton siblings are fun to read about, and who can forget the kind-hearted Lord Percy?

For those of you who have seen the 1997 TV film based on The Inheritance, this novella is vastly different. While the majority of the characters and main plot points remain the same, the filmmakers took some liberties to adapt Alcott's tale for modern audiences. For instance, while Edith does ride Selim, he is not a race horse, nor does she train him to be one. In fact, there is no race at all in the novella. Lord Arthur Hamilton, Amy's brother in the book, turns into her father in the film, and even Lord Percy's name changes among other things. I enjoyed both film and novella, but they are so different that I find it awkward to think of them as the same story.

Advisory: None

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Click here to buy The Inheritance on Amazon!

1 comment:

  1. I love the movie. I think it was set in the late 19th while the book is early 19th or earlier. The novel (I own the very copy you pictured) read more like the type of novel Fanny Burney would write although obviously much shorter. Waay too melodramatic for my taste when I read it, but I might find it funny now. I think it is interesting to read different styles from the same author. I enjoyed A Long Fatal Love Chase (it was considered to scandalous to publish although I didn't think it was; the heroine thought she was married but had been tricked as far as I remember). I would stay away from her short stories, some of those are bad; the exact type of things Jo gets in trouble with Mr. Bauer for writing!


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