Eight Cousins or The Aunt-Hill

by Louisa May Alcott

Hardcover, 1927


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Grosset & Dunlap (1927), 278 pages


Orphaned Rose Campbell finds it difficult to fit in when she goes to live with her six aunts and seven mischievous boy cousins.

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LibraryThing member 2chances
When I was eight, I read Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women" for the first time. And then I read it again - about twenty-five times in that first year, slurping it up like a delicious piece of my favorite dessert. It was the first time I ever realized that books could be tastier than cake. And every
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so often, even now, I feel a need for some Alcott-cake; "Eight Cousins" is still one of my favorites.

The story concerns orphaned Rose, the only girl in a family of eight first cousins. On the death of her father, Rose is sent to the family home to meet her new guardian, her father's brother Alec, whom she has never met. Rose is frail, pale, overpoweringly ladylike, and (as you might expect, given her recent history) more than a bit anxious about her new life with Uncle Alec - not to mention all those boy cousins. Alec is a free-thinking doctor who is determined to turn frail Rose into a happy, healthy Rose. As a little girl, I loved reading about Alec taking away Rose's tight leather belts and giving her soft rainbow sashes and scarves; stealing her black coffee and making her milk the cow for fresh milk, and surprising her with skates and warm muffs and sleds and boats. And the truth is, I still like it.

I like Rose too. She can be awfully priggish, but she tries so hard to be good - you don't see that very often in modern kid-lit. (I'm not talking about you, Harry Pottter!) If you ask me (and nobody has), I think kids lose when they don't find integrity modelled for them in books.
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LibraryThing member DeltaQueen50
I had fond memories of Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott from reading it as a child, but I didn’t remember just how sweetly sentimental it truly was. Of course my reading taste has matured, and soured slightly over the years, so I found this book a little too sweet for my taste. In showing her
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readers the value of family, simple pleasures and an industrious life, we are told the story of Rose Campbell, orphaned and given over to the care of various aunts while awaiting the arrival of her guardian, the sea-faring Uncle Alex. Rose has been overly coddled and protected and is on the verge of becoming a sickly, timid child. Her uncle extracts a promise from the aunts to give him a year of total control over Rose’s life to see if he can bring out the healthy, vibrant girl he believes she can be.

Rose, along with her seven male cousins enjoys a year of outdoor activity, healthy eating, with many life and morality lessons. She, of course, blooms under this treatment. This book was originally published in 1875, so the outdated ideas on the female role, and the way that other races were looked at, I was able to excuse.

Overall the book held it’s charm for me, and I would encourage young girls to read this book, but treat it as a history lesson. As each chapter has a moral, this book would make a great launching pad for discussion. Overall I enjoyed my trip down memory lane and I do plan on eventually reading the sequel, Rose In Bloom, as I remember that as a charming and cozy read as well.
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LibraryThing member molliewatts
Rose Campbell is fragile and delicate, in mourning for her recently dead parents and about as far from "boisterous" as a girl can get. Enter her 7 boy cousins, all of them the epitome of "boisterous." Rose's Uncle Alec encourages her to play with her cousins, and soon she is running all over the
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place, with no time time for being delicate and fragile.

I loved this book because I always wanted older brothers, and since I didn't have them I always loved that Rose had 7 boy cousins who were like brothers to her. I loved all the boys' personalities and how they loved Rose and wanted to play with her.
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LibraryThing member countrylife
This is a sweet little morality tale, of the type popular in its day. Little Rose, orphaned on another continent, is brought to live among the family she has never met. On a hill along the coast in Massachusetts, are the homes of all her other relatives. Her father's old aunts, Peace and Plenty,
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inhabit the ancestral manse, where all family members come to gather. Scattered on the hill are the homes of her other aunts and their husbands, all of whom have begotten BOYS!

Her father's brother, Alec, an unmarried ship's captain, comes to stay with the aunts, and commences Rose's education. He sets her to learning from the old aunts. It was a pretty sight to see the rosy-faced little maid sitting between the two old ladies, listening dutifully to their instructions, and cheering the lessons with her lively chatter and blithe laugh. He teaches her language, anatomy and physical education. Rose grows in strength, health and virtue.

For the boys, Ms. Alcott gives each cousin a unique personality, and their interactions with Rose, while each learns from the other, will bring a smile to your face.

A nice, old-fashioned sort of story.
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LibraryThing member JenJ.
COTC Book Club selection for December 2010.

Read previously (many times) - listened to the Recorded Books cassette edition in January 2008. I was torn on how many stars to give this - I remember this title as one I've loved since childhood, but there's so many problems with it. Since I think the
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intended audience is children, I'm going to rate based on my previous view of it, but I'm struck by how much more annoying Rose is to listen to than to read about and by the casual racism in the story about Rose visiting her Uncle's warehouse of Chinese goods. In general I'm amazed at the faults I haven't noticed on previous readings; I think part of this is hearing it aloud and part is reading from a different age point. Uncle Alec was so smug and pompous most of the time I wanted to smack him, but I thought he was wonderful when I read this as a child. Everything is so moral and preachy - and Aunt Jessie, portrayed as the best and most sympathetic of the Aunts, burns the "thrilling" books that her two middle sons are reading. Book burning! And this didn't bother me? Now moving on to the sequel Rose in Bloom; we'll see if it stands the test of time (or age viewpoint) any better!

Re-read again for the book club discussion and it definitely holds up better through reading than listening. I can just breeze through the parts I don't like and give the sometimes twee dialogue a better tone in my head. I still like Rose in Bloom better though.
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LibraryThing member streamsong
his is a morality tale, showing young girls of the late 19th century what virtue looks like.

And while many of the lessons remain true today – kindness, sacrifice, avoiding bad company and harmful habits like smoking – I struggled with this book.

The heroine Rose is so darn good she sets my
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teeth on edge. I sincerely thought about abandoning this, but then read the Wikipedia entry and learned that this book was considered quite feminist in its day for encouraging comfortable clothing and outdoor exercise as well as a wealthy young lady wanting to have an occupation to fall back on– which, tear my hair out - turned out to be housekeeping.

I'm glad to have read it as the only other Alcott I've read was Little Women and, from my first reading of it in 5th grade, I was firmly on Team Jo.

This book is not for the rebels at heart.
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LibraryThing member jjmcgaffey
Lovely as always. I read and reread this so many times that, despite not having looked at it in probably 20 or 30 years, I remembered most of the events as they came up. Of course, that's helped by the fact that it's utterly predictable - Rose really doesn't go in for twists. It's a sweet story;
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the style is old-fashioned (not unexpectedly - originally published in 1875), but unlike several other books I've read recently, Alcott doesn't obtrude herself into the story excessively. The characters are solid, the language slightly odd but not very, the situations quite familiar - people don't change all that much - and while there is a strong moral message, it's transmitted through and by the characters, rather than by straight preaching. Glad I read it again, I won't wait as long next time.
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LibraryThing member Lisa2013
recommended for: children of all ages

This is probably my second favorite Louisa May Alcott book (after Little Women.) At least it was when I was a kid. I remember envying Rose all those boy cousins; it seemed as though it would be so much fun to have so many built in boy playmates. And it’s yet
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another orphan story – I do have an “orphans” shelf on goodreads as I love books about orphans. I don’t remember this as a depressing or somber tale at all though.

On another note: I pulled out my copy of the book, and I’m very excited as I must still have my mother’s copy: have one published the year (1927) she was twelve; I read this for the first time when I was a few years younger than that.
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LibraryThing member janeajones
my favorite of all of Alcott's books -- I probably read it a dozen times when I was a kid
LibraryThing member Kace
The first introduction of Rose. At the time I wasn't holding my breath that Alcott could recreate the magic that Little Women held for me, having read the follow ups to Little women and being less than impressed. Yet in Rose I found another character to lose myself in, and the books following her
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story were a treat to read also.
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LibraryThing member annekiwi
I loved this book. It was another of those fairy tale stories with dead parents and being raised by an uncle and a bunch of male cousins. It has a very good moral about lack of vanity and doing good [Phoebe is the maid as well as best friend]. Highly reccomended for tweens. I liked it much better
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LibraryThing member hemlokgang
First of all, this was a first edition with wonderful illustrations. Secondly, I am a total sucker for Louisa May Alcott. Her stories are such parable, and so sweet. I don't want to hear that she is out of date or idealistic or gender biased. The story brought back warm memories of reading "Little
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Women", "Jo's Boys", and "Little Men" as a young teenager.
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LibraryThing member byroade
I remember really enjoying this book. I loved how Rose comes to meet her extended family of strangers for the first time. I vividly remember the "cold bath" scene--it's an eye-opening look at 19th-century childrearing.
LibraryThing member tjsjohanna
I listened to this via a librivox recording. It was a nice story of an orphan taken care of by a large family. I enjoyed Rose's character and admired her uncle. I liked that fact that the influence of girls on others was explored.
LibraryThing member maiadeb
This story of Rose, Phebe, Uncle Alex and all the aunts and cousins stands out in 19thC literature for the jabs it pokes at women's education, societal expectations, medical treatment and social prejudices and practices. Uncle Alex and his loving "experiments" with Rose show us the family love and
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the family pressures put on young women and alternative thinkers even as we experience old New England. I re-read this every Christmas as a present to myself.
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LibraryThing member mcintoshcollege
Perennial favorite...I have been reading this every Christmas since I was ten. Great glimpse into wealthy family and social customs of the nineteenth century. It is a clear example of how women and their circumstances have changed. Medicine, travel, education, young women and family dynamicsare
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examined and Alcott's radicalmism is evident but subdued.
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LibraryThing member rogueheels
My favorite childhood book! Re-read many times....
LibraryThing member MerryMary
An old fashioned story about a over-protected orphan who comes under the care of an uncle with progressive ideas about raising a healthy child. Part of the prescription involves mixing her with her seven harum-scarum boy cousins. A reflection, no doubt of Louisa Alcott's own father, and his ideas
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on education, and perhaps her wish to have a houseful of brothers.

I am not fond of the illustrations. They make Rose seem a little too young, Aunt Plenty a little too slim! Of course, my copy of "Rose in Bloom" is several decades older with more stylish illustrations; fine-line engravings.

Found in an antique store in Sioux City, Iowa.
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LibraryThing member sdunford
My favorite Alcott book - well worth the read
LibraryThing member Shookie
I think this may be my favorite Alcott book. I love the interactions between the cousin and their distinct personalities. Beautiful book.
LibraryThing member picardyrose
How funny -- I've forgotten how this ends.
LibraryThing member arelenriel
This is a marvelous edition of this book with a forward by May Lamberton Becker the authour of Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates. I have always loved this particular series of Alcotts above the Little Women books. Rose is so much more a believeable character. An enjoyable read for littl girls aged
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LibraryThing member EllasGran
Rose is an orphaned girl who is staying with two great aunts to await the arrival of her guardian, Uncle Alex, the brother of Rose's deceased father. Because of a quarrel with Alex, custody of Rose was their attempt at reconciliation. Alex invigorates his niece, getting her out of her black
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mourning clothes, and insisting she she read and study practical things, like math and Bacon's essays, instead of reading fairy tales. Rose gets to know her various aunts and uncles and the seven boy cousins who all love her in one way or another. Alex gives his niece the opportunity to find out in which home she would be happiest by letting her to stay one month with each family. She has a good time at all, even gloomy childless widow Aunt Myra's, and finally comes home to make her choice.
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LibraryThing member leslie.98
Very similar in style to Alcott's Little Women but lacking much of the substance (perhaps because Rose doesn't reach adulthood in this book). I enjoyed listening to the free LibriVox audiobook of this as light relief from my somewhat serious books at the moment but I don't think that it would be a
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satisfying adult book otherwise. The stories about little Rose & her 7 boy cousins were sweet but Alcott's moralizing tone at times is a bit hard to take.
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LibraryThing member nx74defiant
Sweet story of an orphan with seven cousins being taken care of by her uncle. He encourages her to run, jump and play; not to be lady like.


Original publication date


Physical description

278 p.


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