I read a book last week that has stayed with me, encouraging me to THINK about life. Being Mrs Alcott by Joanne Geary is an older book, published about five years ago but somehow I missed it then. I came across it in the Book Sale Room at our local library. I was drawn by the title, thinking it might have something to do with the Louisa May Alcott family and when I took it off the shelf, it had a pretty cover so I decided to invest 50 cents to bring it home with me. :)
The book is the story of a woman and her almost 40 years of marriage to a difficult man but a man who she loves and is committed to staying with despite ups and downs. The book opens on Grace's wedding day but we get a glimpse of her life as the sheltered younger daughter of upper class parents. When she goes off to Radcliffe to school, she meets a Harvard man, Bainbridge Alcott, who is known to friends and family as Bain. He woos Grace with his dreams of being a writer. Bain tells Grace they will travel the world, he will write books and their life together will be wonderful. This is in 1967 when many young people were breaking away from the "boring" lives of their parents. But as the wedding day approaches, Bain tells Grace he has taken a job in banking as they could not live comfortably on a writers salary. In the early years of their marriage, Bain is climbing the ladder in the corporate world leaving Grace to take "classes' and volunteer for worthy causes to fill her days. Young Bain and Grace also have their eyes on the future. They purchase a run down vacation home in Cape Cod and Grace spends a lot of time, making it their dream home. Motherhood comes along and with it a tragedy that would shake any marriage but Bain and Grace weather the storm. This novel does move along quite rapdily....decades will pass in one chapter. But I kind of like that writing style myself so it did not bother me. At the end of the book, Bain and Grace face financial setbacks as well as health issues but their marriage seems stronger than ever, much to the surprise of their children and friends who could never see why Grace stayed married to Bain, the dominant force in the marriage. One son informs Grace that her marriage is a relic! That thought really stayed with me as I see so many who do not value commitment in our modern society. The younger generation seems to think that if you are not "happy" just ditch the people around you who are making you unhappy and move on. What they do not realize that often the problem is within themselves.
One reviewer saw Grace as downtrodden and the book as depressing. However, I think this book has a lot to say about life and human nature. Grace was the glue that held her family together. She was the really strong person and that is revealed as Being Mrs Alcott comes to a close. I think this book will appeal to those of us of a certain age, who have come to realize that life is not perfect and dreams do not always come true but what is truly important is those little moments in life that take our breath away.