Rose in Bloom: Endings and beginnings

I am glad that I somehow got the idea from another blog that Mac and Rose did not get together. It pained me to see how Mac wooed her and she would not give in. When he shared his Thoreau essays with her and found them well received, it pained me again. So you can imagine my surprise and joy when in fact, the story of Rose in Bloom ended exactly as I hoped it would.

Thoreau yet again

thoreauI had to smile at the injection of Henry David Thoreau into the story. Louisa was not shy in showing her immense admiration of the man. I think Mac was the best representation yet of Thoreau—a seeker both intellectually and spiritually. Mac was a Thoreau who grew into the idea of sharing his life with a woman and finding happiness and fulfillment in that relationship.

Perfect pairings but no perfect marriages

While David Sterling was also a Thoreau-like figure who gave his life to Christie Devon in Work A Story of Experience, there was something more satisfying to me about Mac. Louisa, however, never took the relationships beyond the marrying: David was killed off in the Civil War, and Rose in Bloom ended with Mac and Rose agreeing to marry. I realize that Louisa, having never married herself, perhaps did not feel qualified to explore marriage but I would have like to have seen her ideal of marriage played out. She certainly did a fine job of describing Meg’s marriage to John (particularly when it came to raising the babies).

Justice for Phebe

Phebe was finally accepted into the family because of her care of Uncle Alec during his illness. It’s unfortunate that she had to prove her worth in order to be accepted, considering the fact that she was already worthy despite not coming from a noted family. I was glad to see that Aunt Plenty came around although I had to wonder if she would have had Uncle Alec not survived.

phebe and alec

Love and genius

So all was well that ended well. I enjoyed Rose in Bloom very much with its overall theme of talent versus genius and the conclusion that one could be a genius at things not associated with the fine arts (in Rose’s case, in giving to others). Dr. Cathlin Davis was indeed correct about Louisa’s premise that love was the necessary element to spark true genius as love prods us to move beyond ourselves to something bigger.

Becoming a single parent


Adult issues such as alcoholism (see previous post) and single parenthood were also explored. Louisa had a remarkable talent for introducing potentially controversial issues in such a stealth manner such that one never notices they are in fact controversial; it was part of her own genius. It’s interesting to me that she introduced the idea of a single woman adopting a child before she had done it herself with Lulu. It reveals a longing that May’s tragic death was able to fulfill.

Rose in Bloom was a satisfying read and I thank everyone here who so heartily recommended it. You, dear readers, are the experts on Louisa’s canon and I appreciate you educating me.

Which book shall we discuss next? Leave a comment with your suggestion.


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8 Replies to “Rose in Bloom: Endings and beginnings”

  1. Dear Susan,
    if you want to see more of Thoreau in Alcott’s writing, I suggest reading “Moods”. In this novel Alcott narrates the relationship of Sylvia Yule, a tomboy quite close to Jo March, with her brother’s two best friends. These two gentlemen are a thinly disguised portrait of Emerson and Thoreau.

    1. Thanks for that, I have read Moods and saw that clearly, it was very interesting. I wrote several posts about Moods when I first started this blog. I read both versions together and couldn’t decide which version I preferred. My favorite part was when they all sailed down river in the boat as I love to do that too.
      Ultimately it was a sad story.

      I have a really cute miniature volume of Moods (the first version) that dates back to the beginning of the 1900s that I picked up in Concord.

  2. I loved Old-Fashioned Girl and liked Jack and Jill when I was growing up. As an adult, I find Louisa’s thrillers more interesting and better stories.

  3. You bring out some great points on Rose in Bloom. I think it was the highlight of the story for me that Rose took in a baby to raise as a single parent. What an unheard of thing in those times! It was genius on Louisa’s part. 🙂

  4. Louisa was subversive in the way she would slip in such things. I thought the added part about Kitty wanting to adopt and then changing her mind drove home the point that these children were people and not commodities.

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