Louisa May Alcott's classic "An Old-Fashioned Girl" is an engaging period romance disguised as a morality tale, and evidence, if the reader needs it, that human nature hasn't changed very much since this novel was first published in 1870.
The story is told in two parts. In the first portion, fourteen year old Polly Milton comes to Boston to stay with her friend Fanny Shaw, who lives the exciting if rather unfulfilling life of a young socialite. Polly, a shy country mouse in the big city, feels out of place among Fanny's wealthy and fashionable circle. However, she makes up for her lack of social standing with her good manners, modesty, and her domestic skills, which endear her to the Shaw household. Not least, she is a good influence on Fanny's rather wild brother Tom, who comes to care about her good opinion.
The novel jumps ahead six years, as a twenty year old Polly returns to Boston for the unfashionable purpose of making her own living as a music teacher. Polly will make a niche for herself through hard work and self-denial. However, a maturing Polly has become attractive to men, and she will find herself in a romantic dilemma between two suitors. One will offer the poverty-stricken Polly the comfort of wealth with friendship; the other the possibility of genuine passion. In addition, Polly will be called upon to assist the Shaws through a series of family crises.
Louisa May Alcott relies on some traditional plot devices, but the real entertainment is her superb telling of the story, including the moral that young men may be as gallant as their women require them to be. "An Old-Fashioned Girl" is highly recommended to fans of Louisa May Alcott's many novels.