Thursday, May 29, 2008

Wisdom from "An Old-Fashioned Girl"

An Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott is one of my all-time favorite books. I've read it numerous times, and each time been encouraged and touched by its sweet story. Though the era is very different from ours, the truths and lessons Polly learns are still very applicable to us today.

Polly was visiting her friend Fanny in the city, and soon got a little discontented with the plain and old-fashioned clothes she had to wear. Fanny had such beautiful, grown-up looking gowns, and next to her, Polly's looked so childish. Being a wise daughter, she wrote her mom for some advice. The reply she gave should be a challenge to us today.

"I don't want my Polly to be loved for her clothes, but for herself... The least of us can have some influence in this big world, and perhaps my little girl can do some good by showing others that a contented heart and a happy face are better ornaments than any Paris can give her."

Polly, being a wise daughter, took the advice to heart, and it made a lovely difference.

"The thought that, insignificant as she was, she yet might do some good made her very careful of her acts and words, and so anxious to keep heart contented and face happy that she forgot her clothes and made others do the same. She did not know it, but in that good old fashion of simplicity made the plain gowns pretty, and the grace of unconsciousness beautified their little wearer with the charm that makes girlhood sweetest to those who truly love and reverence it.

In the end, true modesty isn't in wearing old-fashioned clothes, but in having a sweet spirit and a modest heart. Though it's not wrong to dress in the fashions of today (while working hard towards modesty) all of us would do well to remember that often, simple is best. As Polly learned, having a contented heart and happy face, along with the grace of unconsciousness, makes one's inner beauty shine through.


Sloan said...

Hi Anna!

Finished An Old Fashioned Girl a little more than a week ago. I LOVED IT! Thank you so much for writing up your book lists. They are very helpful. About a week ago I was in church playing with a group of little ones and some girls about my age were in a little group talking to each other. I have TRIED to be friends with these girls but It has not worked out real well. I kind of felt left out. Why couldn't I make them like me as they like each other? I do look very different from them, I am in a long denim skirt with a modest top on, and they are in questionable jeans and quiestionable tops. I am proud of the way I dress I like to dress modestly and look different. After talking with my Mom later on she said, Sloan, you do not have to fit in but stand apart. Keep being a young christian woman and keep being sweet and kind, of COURSE you are going to be different! I felt much better after that and felt like even if some girls might not be my friends, and if I look different or weird to them IT'S OKAY!!! Sorry for going off on a tangent. Haha!

Sloan <><

Sammybunny said...

That is such a beautiful sentiment! I have never read that book, I confess, but I love Little Women (the movie) and the book (even though I have never finished it due to other projects that would come up while reading). I love reading your blog! You are so wise and have such a gentle spirit, I can tell!

Ella said...

I love An Old-Fashioned Girl. I have read it once before, but now Mom and I are reading it together. There is so much wisdom to be found in its pages!

Maiden Of Virtue said...

I will have to read this one- it sounds really good!

Have you read Hospital Sketches? I am supposed to be reading it this year for school.

God bless!

Zoe said...

I read that book a long time ago and I loved it. Unfortunately since it has been so long since I read it I have forgotten a lot about it.

Kasie said...

I love Louisa May Alcott books! I think Little Women's my favorite thus far. I've never finished An Old Fashioned Girl before actually! We got it from the library and had to return it before I was done and I guess I forgot about requesting it again! I should read that book soon.

I'm actually here to tell you that you got awarded with the "You Make My Day Award"! You guys do a fabulous job with your blog and I'm blessed by reading all that you post here. Thanks so much for making my day! (see our blog for details) God bless you!

Bonnie S said...

Yes, I love that book!

I'm wondering, do you know what happened to Kelsie's(?) blog, Has it moved to Wordpress or another site? It was there a week or so ago, and how the link doesn't work!

Jody said...

Great wisdom. I linked to this article from Rose Petals. Thanks for sharing.

Maria Pauline said...

How very Alcottish! In so many ways with so many characters does she demonstrate how precious these virtues are. :)

Anna Naomi said...

Sorry it's taken me so long to respond to all of your comments! We've had a busy weekend.

Sloan: I'm glad you enjoyed An Old-Fashioned Girl!. I too, enjoy dressing modesty, even it if means looking different. One thing that we all need to reminded of is not to judge other girls or feel "holier-then-thou" for dressing modestly. God is working in each heart a different way, and many girls simply don't understand that some things can be immodest. We need to pray that God will show them, and that we'll be a good example for Him.

Sammybunny: Definitely read the book if you have time, though I definitely understand other projects having to take precedent! I like this book even more then Little Women!

Ella: How fun to read it with your mom - that must be really special.

Courtney: No, I haven't read Hospital Sketches though I have heard of it. I've not seen it in the library, which is where I get most of my books. Let me know what you think of it!

Kasie, thank you for the award! What is your blog address? =)

Bonnie: Ella changed the address to "How Great is His Faithfulness" because of various reasons. However, the link on our sidebar has now been updated with her new blog address.

Elizabeth Ellen Moore said...

This book is a favorite of mine. I can relate to Polly in so many ways. I don't like how it focuses on morals and "being good" without Jesus (Alcott was not a Christian), but I do like the lessons it teaches about doing the right thing as opposed to fitting in with the crowd and being popular. Great book review, and I love the quote you used!

Abbi said...

"An old-fashioned girl" is my all-time favorite book, and that is saying a lot!