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Pauline's Passion and Punishment

Louisa May Alcott

Book Overview: 

Before she wrote Little Women and Little Men, Louisa, writing under the pseudonym A.M. Barnard, wrote this `blood and thunder' thriller. This was during the period when Louisa worked a nurse during the American Civil war. The rigid and unfair roles of men and women of this period, their expectations and desires, plays at large in this story of betrayed love, anger, petulance, and ultimately, vengeance.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .softness vanished, the stern woman reappeared, and, crushing it in her hand with slow significance, she said low to herself, "This is an old, old story, but it shall have a new ending."

Chapter II

"What jewels will the señora wear tonight?"

"None, Dolores. Manuel has gone for flowers—he likes them best. You may go."

"But the señora's toilette is not finished; the sandals, the gloves, the garland yet remain."

"Leave them all; I shall not go down. I am tired of this endless folly.
Give me that book and go."

The pretty Creole obeyed; and careless of Dolores' work, Pauline sank into the deep chair with a listless mien, turned the pages for a little, then lost herself in thoughts that seemed to bring no rest.

Silently the young husband entered and, pausing, regarded his wife with mingled pain and pleasure—pa. . . Read More

Community Reviews

This is one of Louisa May Alcott's darkest works, again showing how talented she was at writing in different genres; a mark of a great author.

This is a tale of a scorned woman's revenge on a man who informed her - via letter - that he'd dropped her to marry someone with more money.

Thus the passi...more

The story is wildly imaginative and completely improbable, yet somehow still a fairly good sermon about the danger of revenge. Pauline is spurned by the man she loves and so marries a young puppy-like boy to enact revenge. In the end she ruins the lives of all involved. The story is obviously fro...more

I gave this book three stars only for how good it was written. Louisa May Alcott was extremely good at capturing the beauty of nature- but it's a very depressing book. Only meant to teach children not to be like Pauline and live for revenge, hatred, and avenging yourself, but to forgive. Be prepa...more

The abrupt ending has me reeling. I found I did not like Pauline at all, and she certainly deserves punishment.

good Alcott tale with a shocking ending

A little disturbing, considering it's written by the author of Little Women...But a classic thriller with a horrifying ending...Fun to read!

"Pauline's Passion and Punishment" was one of the stories I wrote my dissertation on--the other two were Alcott's WORK and A LONG FATAL LOVE CHASE. All of these (with the possible exception of WORK, depending on how you read it) are very different to Alcott's LITTLE WOMEN, and belong to her Blood...more

A quick little tale of revenge, a morality play where the innocent are despoiled by the malevolent compulsions of the impure. Alcott wrote several of these "pulps," which she referred to as "blood and thunder tales," for the National Enquirer-esque newspapers of her day. They were melodramatic ps...more

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