This book was just kind of meh to me. The whole premise and biggest plot point occurs in the first chapter. Florence Adler is the youngest daughter of a Jewish couple. She loves to swim, she’s amazing at it, and she’s decided to try to swim the English channel (btw it’s in the 1930’s so that’s a pretty big deal). She goes out to train one day and drowns. The rest of the novel follows her parents, a Jewish girl they’ve taken in, her swim coach, her niece, and her brother in law as they decide and execute a plan to keep this tragedy from her very pregnant sister who is on bed rest in the hospital since she mad a very late term miscarriage the previous summer. This is really just a character study in grief. It was incredibly predictable how events would pan out and what the characters’ reactions would be. The writing was ok. For this sort of narrative where the character development is the main driver of the work I like to see beautiful writing shine through and it just did not do that here. Florence and her family are Jewish so that was interesting due to when the novel takes place. I wasn’t aware how Americans in general viewed the plight of European Jews at this point in history. Otherwise, though, this isn’t a novel I’d recommend to many people.
When most people think of Indiana (if they ever do), they usually associate it with either the Indy 500 or corn. Most of our great state is indeed covered in farmland and not much else. We have a couple of large cities and a few more small cities where the vast majority of our population lives but the remaining people are mostly scattered in very small towns (I personally grew up in a town of 800 people) or in a cornfield. Out of all of my high school friends I’m pretty sure I was the only one who lived in an actual town although there was at least one other in our friend group who lived in a town which literally consisted of 6 houses on a State Road.
What I’m getting at is that most people don’t immediately think of Indiana as a good place to do some solid hiking. There are several state parks that break that bias, though. I took a Monday off a couple of weeks ago to visit my favorite one – Turkey Run State Park!
Turkey Run is one of the most popular state parks in Indiana. It’s about 90 minutes away from Indianapolis and it gets a TON of visitors every year. There are things to do for more or less all ages and activity levels so lots of families make it a tradition to visit at least once during the summer/fall season. The most popular attractions in the park are probably the suspension bridge and the trails with ladders. There are miles of different trails to go on (none of them are incredibly difficult) as well as a large campground. If you ever find yourself in the Crossroads of America, try to get some free time and take a visit to the park.
Also, if you do make your way to stay overnight but you aren’t sure of your food situation, be sure to check out the restaurant. Last summer I camped with my husband and some friends and we unfortunately forgot to bring along coffee (I still drank regular at that point so I really needed some to get moving!). We walked to the restaurant and grabbed some coffee for me and pancakes for him. It was pretty cheap for what we got an it was also pretty good. The servers are all local and very friendly. Be sure to keep that in mind when making your plans! There are also some little “cabins” (below) that you can rent if you still aren’t sold on going to this amazing park.
I started out at the Nature Center around 9AM EST. If we aren’t camping at the park, I tend to park in this lot. The inn, restaurant, cabins, and a ton of playing area is also right next to the lot so it tends to fill up quickly. Since the pandemic started, though, I think the hours for the park have scaled back a bit so I parked away from other cars towards the back of the lot.
Here’s a smaller version of the map of the park as well as the trails I actually went on during this visit.
From the nature center I took trail 1 down to the suspension bridge and crossed it. There are usually kids running around in this area since you can walk down to a sandy beachy area. You aren’t supposed to swim, though, so remember if you do that you’re breaking park rules.
Not pictured are all of the people tubing, canoeing, or kayaking that day. There were A LOT of them – even at 9AM on a Monday. There were also quite a few families out around the sand. Since COVID has changed most peoples’ vacation plans I think they’re getting out into parks more which is great! Hopefully they’ll feel the need to also give a few dollars donation or use the parks license plate when they renew next year.
From the bridge I hiked up to Rocky Hollow on trail 3 but by the time I got to the area just past the sign there was a huge crowd of people taking pictures and not really letting others by. This is probably petty of me but that’s really bad park etiquette. Take your pictures and make memories but try your best not to stop trail traffic. This is roughly when I turned around, hiked back to the suspension bridge (still on the north side of the river) and then took trail 8. This trail is never as crowded. It’s listed as moderate but I think that’s only because it isn’t paved. While on trail 8, I took a short detour to take a gander at the Salmon Lusk Home, then turned around and continued north on trail 4/8 then on to trail 4. At this point you could always take trail 8 back towards the suspension bridge but I didn’t drive to my favorite park just to walk down one trail!
Trail 4 is listed as moderate/rugged due to the fact that a decent portion of it is either in creek beds or right next to them. If you have bad knees I don’t recommend it but otherwise, it’s totally fine. There are also a few stairs you have to take but I think it’s only 10 or 12. When I hit the intersection of trails 4 and 3 I decided to go north to avoid Rocky Hollow. At this point in the day I was starting to see more people so I’m sure Rocky Hollow was even busier than earlier in the day. From trail 3 I went up through all of trail 10 to see Camel’s Back (not super impressive in summer because of the dense vegetation but I’m sure it’s beautiful in autumn), back down trail 10 to trail 3, through one of the ladders (there were families with REALLY little kids trying to do the ladders, as in the kids were preschool age and terrified which is such a bad idea), then I detoured over to the “140 steps” to avoid the traffic, and went by Bear Hollow on trail 5. After I reached the T in trail 5, I took trail 9 to the west a bit to see Falls Canyon but I turned around to take trails 5 and 3 back to the suspension bridge. By now it was about 1PM and I was almost out of water so I crossed the bridge and did a quick loop down trails 1-2 by Goose Rock and Lusk Earth Fill. Then I went back to the Nature Center and called it a day.
Again, Turkey Run is awesome. We usually avoid it during the summer because it does get pretty busy on the weekends but I was surprised to see that many people on a Monday. I’m sure some of it’s due to the pandemic but you’ve been warned. Autumn is a great time to spend a weekend out in the park as well – that’s generally when we go – but be sure to book your tent site if you’re going to camp.
Here are a few more pictures from the trails. Most of it is standard trees/vegetation. The creek beds you see are ones that you could expect to either cross or hike through on some of the trails. Be sure if you’re going hiking you have waterproof or resistant boots! I also tried really hard to keep people out of the pictures but there’s one of Rocky Hollow that I couldn’t swing. The angle is weird so that the majority of the humans aren’t included.
Hopefully by now everyone has had a chance to read Little Women and also see the new adaptation by Greta Gerwig. If you haven’t or if you really don’t care about this work of art then go away and find some cute dog pictures somewhere.
Here are some of my thoughts on the book (feel free to disagree, it’s still a free country at this moment):
The character development is straightforward and evident. Come at me if you don’t agree. Amy goes from being a little monster who’s responsible for burning Jo’s first strike at a novel to being a confident and self-aware woman willing to marry for money (to support her family – it was a different time so go easy on her) to an even more self-aware woman who decides to marry a slightly less amount of money because she loves the man. Don’t get me started on Jo and Meg. RIP Beth; she was always perfect.
I listened to a fairly cheap audio version of the book this last time I read it (via Chirp) and even that was enjoyable to listen to. Alcott’s way with language makes even the most mundane sentences and plots sound interesting and uniquely beautiful. If you’ve only read the book and have never listened to it read aloud, do yourself a favor and spend $5 to listen to it while you do your own mundane tasks.
The men in the novel seem to be atypical of the time. I’m not a huge historical fiction girl myself but I’m comfortable enough with the brief period of time from 25,000 BC to 2010 where the patriarchy was ripe and women’s rights were the thing of comedic cartoons. Every single man in this work is respectful of our little women’s dreams. Even when Jo is haggling with the newspaper guy he can clearly see through her ruse and knows she’s selling her own stories but he’s still respectful and doesn’t call her out on it. The chivalry! The gusto! I love it.
Obviously I have a lot more to say about the book but these are just some general thoughts on it. If you want to read something a bit more analytical then I highly suggest you check out a new website called “Google” and see what you find.
Thoughts on the 2019 adaptation:
2 hours and 15 minutes isn’t enough
While I really enjoyed the movie (REALLY ENJOYED it), it simply couldn’t stand up to the book. I didn’t expect it to but I want to make sure any reader who goes in hoping for those same warm fuzzies obtained from reading the novel isn’t let down. This is a movie. The novel is a collection of individual stories with some underlying threads and relationships to follow. Most of those stories can’t make it into the movie so don’t be disappointed when Amy’s dinner/tea party isn’t on the big screen.
Those outfits are amazing. I have some patterns that I’ve been waiting to try (hardware issues) and now I just can’t wait. Ruffles for life!
There were 2 separate instances where I teared up. If you don’t know me intimately then just let me tell you that doesn’t happen often (rarely in public, almost always because of a dog if it does happen). The group of women next to us cried a regular monsoon.
Go see it. Take a friend if you have one. Sneak in your dog if you don’t.
That’s all I’ve got. Go see the movie. Reread the book or listen to the book. Check out Chirp if you haven’t yet. You’re welcome.