I’ve finished Louisa May Alcott’s novel Little Women; however, instead of a wrap-up post, I’m posting about one last chapter that stood out to me. Chapter 39, called “Lazy Laurence”, finds Laurie in Europe after his marriage proposal to Jo is turned down. Prior to the chapter, Laurie finds Jo’s sister, Amy, the youngest of the March girls, in Nice with her wealthy Aunt.
This entire chapter is one long conversation between Laurie and Amy. Alcott manages to put so much into this conversation, yet she doesn’t overdo it. It’s just right. She continues to make Laurie very likable even if he has just a tinge of arrogance. Amy tends to have a little bit of arrogance, herself; however, during this conversation we see both of them come to terms with themselves – or at least start to.
Alcott gives this scene in Nice a certain combination of sophistication and coziness. At times, shadows fall across the faces of Laurie and Amy and at other times, small twinkles appear in their eyes.
The flirting between the two doesn’t get old. It’s humorous and touching without being sappy such as when Laurie asks Amy how she wants to sketch him:
“How provoking you are! I don’t approve of cigars, and I will only allow it on condition that you let me put you into my sketch; I need a figure.” (Amy)
“With all the pleasure in life. How will you have me? full-length, or three quarters; on my head or my heels? I should respectfully suggest a recumbent posture, then put yourself in also, and call it, ‘Dolce far niente'”. (Laurie)
Ah yes! “Dolce far niente” – so much can be said in moments of “sweet idleness”.