Book Review by Brenda S. Cox
“Don’t despond, but hope and keep happy.” –Marmee, Little Women
I love explorations of literature that look for Christian themes. I believe that all good stories are ultimately based on God’s one big story. Authors who honor God, like Jane Austen, L.M. Montgomery, and Louisa May Alcott, clearly demonstrate this.
I asked Rachel what she thought Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women, had in common. She said:
I find that both Austen and Alcott wrote about women who seem very real. They wrote about characters who are not perfect but to whom we can relate. Both authors show us the best and the worst of their heroines, but they also write wonderful character arcs for their leading ladies; we get to see their ups, their downs, and their growth. Most of all, I think they both wrote about women we’d like to meet. I know I’d love to spend a day with Jo March or Elizabeth Bennet almost as much as I’d like to spend a day with Louisa May Alcott or Jane Austen. Their female characters are THAT good!
In The Little Women Devotional, Rachel Dodge shares 47 devotional readings, one for each chapter of Little Women. Each starts with a quote from the chapter, a Bible verse, and an explanation of what was happening. No problem if it’s been a while since you read the book. You’ll still understand each story and its message.
For example, on Day 4, “A Cure for the Grumps,” we find a quote, then a verse from I Thessalonians about rejoicing and giving thanks always. Next we see the March family, all “out of sorts.” Then, their mother Marmee cheers them up with a story that reminds all of them of their blessings. A reminder to choose thankfulness follows, with the Bible story of Paul and Silas singing in jail. Another Bible verse reinforces the idea of being thankful.
The next section is “Personal Application,” applying the lesson to our own lives. Finally, “A Prayer for Today” gives a prayer to read, which can be personalized. This one ends with, “Show me how I can help brighten this person’s day today: [specific name].” A final verse on thankfulness follows.
Each devotional could be easily read in 10-15 minutes during a busy day.
Mr. and Mrs. March are both wise, exemplary parents. At the end of the book, a special section expands on Mr. March’s beautiful letter to his daughters. Then we have “Moments with Marmee: Words of Wisdom from Mrs. March.” This lists many of Marmee’s wise sayings. For example, “A kiss for a blow is always best, though it’s not very easy to give it sometimes.” Each of these sayings could give you much to chew on, even after you’ve finished the Devotional.
If you get the hardback version, it’s a great, hand-held size for devotional reading, with delightful color illustrations sprinkled throughout. There’s also a well-done Kindle version for those like me, who travel and want to carry a devotional with them. (My Kindle is waterproof so I could read a fair bit of this at the beach!)
I highly recommend each of Rachel Dodge’s books, including The Little Women Devotional.
Do you tend to focus on the positive or the negative aspects of each day? Not only do the Bible and literature encourage thankfulness, modern science has shown the benefits of thankfulness in our lives. I keep a thankfulness journal next to my bed, writing down five things I’m thankful for each night before I sleep. What do you do to keep a thankful attitude?
RACHEL DODGE teaches college English classes, gives talks at libraries, teas, and book clubs, and writes for Jane Austen’s World blog. She is the bestselling author of The Little Women Devotional, The Anne of Green Gables Devotional and Praying with Jane: 31 Days Through the Prayers of Jane Austen. You can visit Rachel online at Rachel Dodge, Kindred Spirit, Saved by Grace.