Work: A Story of Experience is a novel by Louisa May Alcott that chronicles the life and work experiences of a young woman living around the American Civil War period. The book follows the fictional character Christine Devon as she pursues a variety of different jobs over the course of several years, taking experience, knowledge and wisdom with her along with a paycheck.
Devon's journey begins when she turns down the opportunity to marry a farmer and at the age of 21, moves away from her aunt and uncle's home. Her goal is to both live independently in New England and help other women who want to pursue work as well.
The first job she takes is that of a maid. She dislikes this position because she finds it demeaning and it does not pay well. However, she takes this experience as a lesson in humility and is touched by working alongside another servant. Devon moves on from her job as a maid to an actress. Like her previous position, it does not pay well and the fantasy of fame and glory does not translate into reality, so she moves on. Her position as a governess exposes her to the life of the wealthy. She moves from job to job over the course of about 20 years, adding duties like caring for an ill woman, working as a seamstress and a nurse in the Civil War to her resume.
Devon's life story does not solely revolve around work. She does eventually find love and creates a family of her own.
In the end, Devon takes her experiences in the job force and uses them to become a self-professed activist for working women.
Best part of story, including ending:
The character's desire to try a variety of professions is admirable and her journey from job to job is exciting to read.
Best scene in story:
In the beginning of the book, Christine Devon tells her aunt she is creating a new "Declaration of Independence," indicating she is ready to move out and make a living on her own.
Opinion about the main character:
Christine Devon took something from each job, regardless of how much she enjoyed it, and created a lesson she could use for life.