For all who have ever wondered: If only she had survived, and he had returned…
It’s the classic story of four sisters we’ve come to love, and yet we can’t help but wonder. Why did Jo refuse Laurie? What might Laurie have done on the European Grand Tour? What became of Jo’s writing, Amy’s art, Laurie’s music? Would a school have existed without Aunt March? And could Beth possibly have been saved?
The Courtship of Jo March is a re-imagining of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women for all who have ever wondered how things might have worked out differently for the beloved March sisters – the life Beth might have led, the books Jo might have written, the friends they might have made, and the courtship that might have been…
Delightful…This book is for fans of Jo and Laurie, and it delivers in that department beautifully. – Into the Writer Lea
Heartbreak, love, grief, passion, victory…Massachusetts, New York, London, Vienna, Paris…Travel into the unknown with the March family! – In the Bookcase
A strongly flowing and ultimately satisfying narrative…Alcott fans would enjoy The Courtship of Jo March immensely. – Literary Flits
Impressed with the level of care and detail…Many powerful, romantic and humorous moments which made this book an enjoyable read. – The Buttercup Lamb
“I have a surprise for you tonight, my dear Beth,” said Jo one morning, eyes bright.
Beth looked at her in alarm. “Oh, I hope you haven’t gone and done anything rash Jo! I’m perfectly content here in our quarters, with this lovely piano Mr Laurence was kind enough to ensure I could use. It’s simply beautiful.” She touched the shiny top and keys affectionately.
“Yes, it is that, and Mr Laurence was very kind.” Jo acknowledged hurriedly. “But Beth – the concert! They have come from Vienna – Vienna, city of music! Oh, it is as good as being abroad, and they come to you my Beth. You need only walk a few steps to the carriage, to take us away to see them, and you and I will hide safely with Marmee in a quiet corner, listening to the most glorious, heavenly music you ever heard. Now doesn’t that tickle your feet?”
Beth cracked a smile. “I suppose that does sound quite wonderful. But are you sure nobody will come and talk to us? I dread talking to strangers.”
Jo took Beth’s hands, and squeezed them reassuringly. “We know nobody here, and nobody would dare – not when I am making odd faces, wild gestures, and laughing out loud, as you know I’m likely to do. I will be a lady enough to please Marmee, but not enough to draw any sort of unwanted attention. We shall be in and out of the performance as a gentle breeze goes unnoticed through the softest autumn leaves.”
Beth still looked a little uncertain, but she clasped Jo’s hands tightly, and seemed to find courage in her sister’s eager face. “Then we shall go. Oh Jo, thank you! I don’t know how you did it, but I’m sure you have given something up somewhere to make this possible.”
A blush came into Jo’s cheeks as she recalled Laurie’s look of disapproval at the ball. She shook off the memory with a shake of her head and said firmly, “You’re not to worry about that. Enjoy yourself tonight. That is all I want.”
With the music promised to be so delightful, Beth’s desire to witness it overcame her shyness. She dressed like a lady (as did Jo, reluctantly), and ventured forth. Mrs March was quite startled to see her little Beth in a delicate white gown, her soft hair curled and pinned up elegantly at the nape of her neck, long fingers ensconced gracefully in a pair of pristine white gloves that had never been worn.
Jo beamed at her sister, pronounced her the most beautiful little lady she’d ever beheld, and with a flourish presented her with a cluster of white lilies of the valley. Their mother pinned the flowers to the dresses of her two girls, her eyes moistening – for it seemed to her that she could no longer think of Jo and Beth as her girls, but as her little women, and she felt a reckoning in a corner of her heart that this precious time together would be the last of its kind.
The carriage arrived. Beth marveled at the beautiful horses and the sight of her gloved hands on her lap. The prospect of a concert thrilled her soul – live music! Her mind was full of anticipation and her heart pounded in her chest. She wanted nothing more from the evening than to be completely unnoticed, to be completely free to turn her ear to that which she so often had no words for.
True to her promise, Jo swiftly found a corner to hide in, for which Beth was relieved. It was an even larger assembly than she had expected. Despite her repeated reassurances to herself that any sort of conversation with a soul other than her dear mother and sister was virtually impossible, she was frightened.
After the passing of the first hour and most of the intermission without event, Beth began to feel calmer and to speak freely to her mother of her thoughts regarding the music thus far – when Jo suddenly exclaimed, “My goodness, could that be Frank Vaughn? How feeble he looks, the poor thing!”
Beth looked, and indeed it was Frank. She barely recognized him, so altered was he since their last meeting. He was sitting in a chair with wheels; his expressionless face pale, surrounded by conversation but having none of his own.
Beth’s heart went out to him, and, losing her fear in her concern for another, she found herself saying, “He does indeed. We ought to be kind to him, for it seems no one else is.” And to Jo’s astonishment, her frightfully shy sister crossed the room to speak to the even more frail looking young man – but no one was more astonished than Frank himself. His face seemed to look instantly brighter at the sight of Beth.
He seemed to recognize her immediately. They entered into conversation easily, despite their reserved tempers and the lapse of many years. Beth’s initial fear lessened with each kind response Frank uttered.