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Little Women

Little Women


by Louisa May Alcott

Little Women Chapter 37 Summary

READ THE BOOK: Chapter 37

New Impressions

  • Meanwhile, Laurie is walking along the Promenade des Anglais in a fashionable neighborhood of Nice, France. It's sunny and beautiful and many different nationalities are represented by the people strolling along.
  • Laurie's appearance is also very multi-national – he looks Italian, is dressed like an Englishman, and has the attitude of an American. All the women who see him find him amazingly attractive.
  • Laurie, however, is uninterested in all the women around him. He seems to be looking for a blonde woman dressed in blue.
  • Finally, Laurie sees the woman he's looking for driving a little carriage and hurries toward her. It's Amy, who is excited to see him.
  • Laurie tells Amy that he's come to spend Christmas with her the way he promised. She invites him to join her in the carriage and they drive on through the street, chatting.
  • Amy invites Laurie to a Christmas party at her hotel and he accepts.
  • Laurie asks where they are going, and Amy says that she needs to pick up her letters and then go to Castle Hill to look at the view and see the peacocks.
  • Amy asks Laurie what he's been doing. Laurie explains that his grandfather is staying in Paris for the winter, while Laurie himself comes and goes.
  • Amy has to pause the carriage while a procession of priests and nuns goes by. As she waits, she looks at Laurie. He is more handsome and grown-up, but also moody and strange.
  • Amy asks Laurie, in French, what he's thinking. He replies with a flattering compliment, which Amy doesn't like – it's very different from how he used to behave.
  • Amy picks up her letters and then lets Laurie drive the carriage while she reads them. She learns that Beth is very sick.
  • Amy tells Laurie that she thinks about going home to see her sister, but her family advise her to stay in Europe since it's her only chance to do so. Laurie agrees with them.
  • Amy shows Laurie a sketch of Jo. Laurie smiles and puts it in his pocket.
  • Amy says that she's having a very merry Christmas – visiting with Laurie, getting letters, and going to a party in the evening.
  • Amy and Laurie arrive at Castle Hill and stand in the ruins of an old fort feeding the peacocks. Laurie thinks about how much Amy has changed – all for the better. She's just as graceful as ever but more mature now.
  • Amy and Laurie stroll around and look at the view. Amy mentions that Jo would love to see it. Laurie doesn't say much about that.
  • Amy tries to find out what Laurie has been doing with his time. He's apparently been wandering around Europe, mostly in Greece.
  • Amy and Laurie drive home. Laurie says hi to Amy's Aunt Carrol and goes home, promising to come back for the party and dance.
  • While Laurie is gone, Amy does a lot of primping to get herself ready for the dance that evening. She doesn't have much money, so she's not wearing much jewelry and she doesn't have a fancy hairstyle, but she uses flowers and cheap fabrics to make herself look pretty amazing.
  • Once Amy is ready, she just has to wait for Laurie to come pick her up. At first she poses on a sofa and arranges her dress around her, but then she decides not to be so fake and simply stands waiting for Laurie.
  • Laurie comes in and is stunned by Amy's beauty. Amy's also pleased with his appearance and excited to enter the ballroom on his arm.
  • Laurie gives Amy a bouquet in a fancy silver holder. It's basically a wrist corsage – the holder is a bracelet that snaps on her wrist. If this scene reminds you of a prom date, you've got the right idea.
  • Laurie flatters and compliments Amy. She tells him not to be so fake – she prefers it when he's natural and blunt. He's relieved that she wants him to be himself.
  • Laurie and Amy go to the party in the hotel's ballroom. There are a lot of people there – the Americans staying at the hotel have invited everyone they know, including some royalty and nobles.
  • As Amy enters on Laurie's arm, she's aware that they are one of the best-looking couples in the room and pities some of the other girls there.
  • Amy really likes dancing and is good at it, so when the first song starts to play she's impatient to begin. Laurie asks her to dance, but in a careless and insulting way. She rebukes him, and he asks more politely.
  • Amy gives Laurie the first dance. She wants to dance fast and passionately, but the song is slow and decorous and she has to be dignified instead.
  • Laurie goes to dance with Amy's cousin Flo without asking about Amy's later dances. (Girls at dances in the nineteenth-century actually carried little cards called "ball books" with lists of dances, and the guys would sign up for a dance or two.) Amy lets other men, including a young Polish count, fill her card, so that when Laurie comes back she doesn't have a free dance.
  • Laurie doesn't seem to care that Amy's not available to dance with him. She ignores him for a while, but as he sits on the sidelines he begins to notice that she's beautiful and a good dancer.
  • The dance is cheerful and full of the Christmas spirit. Amy and the Polish count finish a dance and he has to leave. She comes back to Laurie, who gets her something to eat.
  • While Amy eats and rests, Laurie comments on how terrific she looks. He can't figure out what she did to make herself look so much more elegant than the other women in the room.
  • Amy explains about learning to use some cheap fabric and flowers to make herself look good. Then she worries that telling him this was in bad taste, but Laurie likes her honesty and simplicity. He fills up her dance card with his own name for the rest of the night.

READ THE BOOK: Chapter 37

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