I could barely believe my luck when I located a new magazine that featured a newly published and incomplete work by Louisa May Alcott, the author of Little Women. I was sold on this Strand Magazine and anxiously started reading her Aunt Nellie’s Diary when I got home.
It is an account of Aunt Nellie’s observations of her orphaned niece, Annie Ellerton and her friend, Isabel Loving. She notices how the two young women interact with each other while they visit her home. She has warm and protective feelings towards Annie who is amiable, unassuming and possesses a warm heart.
Isabel, however, causes Aunt Nellie quite a bit of discomfort because she sees a darker, competitive spirit. When the dashing Edward Clifford, enters the picture, Isabel’s need for attention becomes even more apparent because he is more drawn to Annie.
The short piece reminded me of the two stepsisters in Wives and Daughters by the British author, Elizabeth Gaskell. There is the lighter cheerful Molly and her beautiful but deceptive stepsister, Cynthia. whose secret liaisons almost cost the unsuspecting Molly her reputation in their small town. Both novels were written in the mid-1800’s when life moved much slower. Onlookers had more time to observe and watch every nuance and choice that people made in their daily lives. The authors lived on different sides of the pond, but human nature is the same.
Though Louisa May Alcott did not finish Aunt Nellie’s Diary, I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting her writings again. As it closed, I can see the naïve Annie headed for trouble as she harbors a secret about Isabel’s ties to a Mr. Herbert Ainslie. Life!
Lynn M. May 23, 2020