1849 The Inheritance

30 June 2011

This book was written by Lousia May Alcott when she was 17 years old. It was her first novel, written in 1849 though it was not published until 1997.

This book is my perfect ’guilty pleasure’. It is light, sentimental, melodramatic, utterly romantic, and if I read of one more character with ‘tearful eyes’ I might have to throw up for the sake of principle alone.

But I completely adored this book. I couldn’t put it down! Of course, I wasn’t expecting the emotional depth of a Jane Austen, having already seen the 1997 made-for-tv movie. It’s the kind of movie that, had I seen it as an eleven-year-old, it would have been my absolute favorite. As it is, watching it now, especially with my daughters around me (who love it, by the way), makes me feel all giggly, just like an eleven-year-old at a slumber party.

The plot is different in the book and movie, but I like both. In some ways the movie improved upon the book, and in other ways it let the book down. (The addition of the horse race was excellent, but Edith does not actually turn Lord Percy down three times before finally marrying him!) The characters are simple, pretty much either good or bad, though the bad characters often feel remorse or guilt (more so in the book than the movie), and Louis, an essentially good person, falls to temptation.

The afterward in the book was very interesting, telling a bit about Alcott’s life and the discovery in 1988 of this manuscript that few even knew existed. I can say that for the first time I am very excited to read Little Women later this school year. I know what you’re thinking, but no, I have never read it, and have never really wanted to, mostly because I didn’t really like the movie. (I know, I know, there is something wrong with me, I freely admit it.)

It did not come across in the movie so much, but in the book I had to notice a very strong resemblance between Lord Percy and Col. Brandon from Sense and Sensibility. Perhaps just because that book has been on my mind a lot lately, but those characters definitely have a lot in common. In the movie Lord Percy is more forward (obviously since Edith turns him down three times…) but in the book he is quiet and reserved, but definitely not passive. I think Lord Percy’s character actually helped me to gain a better understanding of Col. Brandon’s personality. (Jane Austen is beautifully and perfectly subtle, but sometimes us poor uneducated folk need things spelled out for us.)

Here are a few screenshots from the movie.

Amy Hamilton and Edith Adelon, her companion (in the movie) / governess (in the book).

Edith and Lord Percy

Lord Hamilton, Amy’s father. He replaces Amy’s brother from the book.

Amy Hamilton with her mother, Lady Hamilton, and Ida, the acid-tounged cousin

Nasty Ida

The Willoughby-like rake, Frederick Arlington. I wanted Percy to haul off and punch him, but no such luck. He gets slightly nicer treatment in the novel, both in his character and in others’ dealings with him.

There are some absolutely beautiful horseback riding shots in this movie. This is Percy in the background and Edith up front.

The horserace!

Lord Percy falling off his horse. (Poor guy.)

Frederick Arlington in the water, after falling off his horse. (Ha ha!)

I definitely recommend both the book and the movie, as they really compliment each other very well, but they are best reserved for a girls’ night in. Read the book. Watch the movie with your daughter or a best friend with whom you don’t mind being sappy and giggly.

I don’t like recommending movies without a note to the parents, but doing so involves some spoilers. First, there is some mild language. Second, one male character forcibly kisses and ends up knocking a female character to the ground. I feel like I am pretty stringent on what my children watch, but I don’t have a problem with them watching this movie. We of course discussed the difference between the virtuous gentleman and the rake, the true friends with charity and the false and jealous individuals. It is unrated, but I would give it a PG.