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Mama Deb
mamadeb
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Mama Deb [userpic]
So, like, I'm bored

And I was bored yesterday, and instead of doing something *productive* like writing fanfic, I read.

To be precise, I read Louisa May Alcott's An Old-Fashioned Girl off Project Gutenberg.



And. The plot of the first half of the book is, "Children are not allowed to be children anymore." They dress and act like miniature adults but in outrageous fashion, and are sexualized far too young (the six year old girl in the story has her own little beau.) They're disrespectful to adults, as well. This is shown in contrast to the title character. (Who, thank goodness, she takes pains to show as jealous of the pretty clothes and such of her friends.)

When was this written? 1868, although half of it is set in 1874 (she declines to predict the fashions of that date, but assumes they're even more immodest.)

But that's not the best part. The best part is that they read a letter purportedly written by a sweet country girl on her first trip to London in 1517 - she's amazed at waking as late as six and going to bed as late as 10, and her appetite is down (from 1 lb of bacon to .5 lb per breakfast), and her "indulgent mother" bought her some shifts and shoes, and she's so excited about this, even though they were apparently inexpensive. Also she wants her knitted mittens. And she's worried about her poultry.

And she's Anne Boleyn. Who was in France in 1517, and had been since at least 1514, where she served in the court of the Queen of France, and where she stayed until 1521. She was NEVER the sweet, innocent pious country girl who was only interested in good people of that letter.

And, while I can't be certain, I don't think there was knitting in Britain until her daughter's reign.

Alcott, in the narration, claimed this was an actual letter...

Comments

I love Louisa May Alcott; I think An Old-Fashioned Girl is her weakest book, but it's still pretty great.

I agree with you that that letter sounds fake, but for different reasons.

There are several sources that claim that knitting was common in England in the 14th and 15th century (here's one); it's the purl stitch that was not invented until the mid-16th century.

There are no good records for the year of Anne Boleyn's birth; the range is 1501 to 1509. There are also no good records for when she was in France; she could very well have been in London in 1517, on a shopping trip for shifts and shoes and such prior to going to the French court.

But you are right that the tone and words are all wrong for the era. Besides, Anne was known for being slender -- too thin for beauty by the standards of the time, and therefore all the more fascinating for somehow being beautiful anyway -- and not at all likely to have ever had a daily pound of bacon and tankard of good ale for breakfast!

My favorite Alcott book is Little Men, especially the character of Nan.