In this blog post series, we’ll feature contributing authors from our new anthology, Alcott’s Imaginary Heroes: The Little Women Legacy. Today we’ll catch up with Donna Macdonald, a writer and blogger from Rhode Island.
Contributor Donna Macdonald reads a vintage copy of Little Women in front of historic Wickford, Rhode Island.
What is your favorite scene from Little Women?
My favorite scene is when the sisters use Aunt March’s Christmas money to buy presents for Marmee. They buy lovely gifts from the heart and present them so lovingly—the slippers, handkerchief, bottle of scent. All scarce items in wartime and quite a sacrifice for the girls. I remember buying small gifts for my mother at the five and dime for Christmas as a child and I think I learned that from Little Women.
If the March sisters were employed where you work, what would their jobs be?
Jo would be our content writer, keeping our members up to date with exciting new events. Meg would be our in-house culture ambassador intent on creating a welcoming, friendly atmosphere in the office. Beth would be responsible for tending our service dogs, given her love of small things and animals. And Amy would be in charge of aesthetics—decorating with plants and paintings, and making sure the powder rooms are filled with . . . well, powder and other useful beauty products.
Who are some of your other “imaginary heroes” from literature?
I love Jane Eyre who, like my favorite Little Women character, Meg, wins her true love’s heart. As I am a knitter, I also appreciate that Jane creates art to comfort herself. She paints to soothe her soul while in the orphanage where she was so mistreated. I employ my knitting whenever I am troubled.
Amy goes to Europe, Jo goes to New York . . . where did your pivotal “coming of age” moment take place?
My coming of age occurred with my first grown-up job in Boston. I copied other more sophisticated women in the office and emulated their dress and style. It opened up a whole new world for me. I also began to spend my spare time in art museums and galleries and saw all the beauty in the world that was right at my fingertips.
At various points in the book, characters like Friedrich Bhaer, Jo, Marmee, and Amy sometimes speak uncomfortable truths to other characters. Whose feedback in your life has helped you to grow?
My “Mr. Bhaer” is also my “Mr. Brooks”. I’ve known him since he was thirteen and to this day, he gives me sage, practical, honest advice. I could not “do life” without him.
Jo has both a writing space and a “scribbling suit” in the book. What does your writing space look like? What’s your favorite scribbling suit?
Typically, I write on my bed with my laptop. But for serious letter writing and editorial organizing, I use a small secretary desk that I bought for myself 25 years ago. It remains one of most treasured possessions. I used it to write in my daughter’s baby book and now I keep things in it for my new granddaughter. I believe in “scribbling suits” and try to look un-sloppy when I am at home. I don’t have a favorite writing cap like Jo, but I have a favorite pair of warm writing slippers!
Have you had a “perfect” (or perfect-on-paper) Laurie in your life, only to realize it wasn’t meant to be?
Oh gosh, yes. There was a charming rogue “Laurie” in my life who disappointed me greatly. Apparently, he portrayed himself as Laurie to other women too. ‘Nuff said!
Tell us about the sisters, or sister figures, in your life.
I have an identical twin sister that I cannot imagine life without. She too, loved Little Women and was a perfect little “Amy” in every way. Always drawing and writing poems, she was more energetic and creative than I am. We are very different and yet very much the same. She created our costumes when we played out the Little Women characters!
I also have a friend that I call my “Big Sis”. I met her later in life via Victoria Magazine. I also took her to Orchard House for the first time and will never forget the expression on her face as she stepped from the car. Her dreamy look is emblazoned on my heart. I’m sure she would have played Jo to my Meg and my sister’s Amy!
Donna Macdonald is a freelance writer who covers style, fashion, motherhood, and careers. She is a regular contributor for Fairygodboss and wrote material for a bestseller that netted her an appearance on Oprah. You can find her regularly on her blog, A Lovely Inconsequence, where she writes about the things that touch a woman’s heart.