Eight Cousins is the story of Rose. About a year ago Rose’s last remaining parent died. Since then she has been living at the home of The Aunts. Rose, of course, is sad and lonely, but she is also pale and listless. Dressed in black, she spends her days with a little sewing, a little reading, naps, and sitting with The Aunts. Rose doesn’t run around outdoors or do any work because Aunt Plenty says she’s not strong enough.
And then one day, things begin to change for Rose. First, she meets a new housemaid, Phebe. Phebe is just a few years older than Rose’s 13. Phebe’s parents are also dead but Phebe is from the poorhouse and must work hard to earn her way. In spite of all that, Rose finds Phebe singing, with a cheerful outlook on life.
The second change is that Rose spend an afternoon with her cousins. They are all boys from ages 10 to 16. Each one is different but they are all full of fun, imagination and adventure.
The third change for Rose is the arrival of Uncle Alec. Uncle Alec is a doctor but he’s been traveling all over the world. He is her legal guardian and has come to oversee Rose’s care. Uncle Alec is disheartened when he sees Rose and immediately sets out to make positive changes in her life even though The Aunts will not like his methods. But Uncle Alec is determined. His goal: “to turn pale-faced little ghosts into rosy, heart girls.”
Rose is such a lovable character that it’s easy to root for her and for Uncle Alec’s efforts to improve her health and her spirits. I will admit to liking this book almost as much as Little Women. It ranks a very close second, in my opinion.
Eight Cousins was written following the success of Ms. Alcott’s Little Women series in 1876. So many young people (primarily girls) loved all the Little Women books that Ms. Alcott’s publishers urged her to continue in the same mode. Eight Cousins is followed by the sequel Rose In Bloom.
I read this book as part of my All Things Alcott Challenge. It’s not too late to join in. If you are an old fan of Louisa May Alcott, or if you’ve just discovered her, this challenge is for you. Click the All Things Alcott button below.