Chapter 24: A bridge between book 1 and book 2, this chapter also gives a description of Meg & John's new home & a brief look at the preparations for their wedding.
Chapter 25: Meg's wedding. If she couldn't have a temple wedding, this has got to be the next best thing. Kudos to her for keeping the simplicity that she wanted, and three cheers to her family for supporting her in it!
Chapter 26: Amy tries various artistic endeavors with varying success. She also invites a bunch of girls over, but it rains on her party, and only 1 girl comes on the "rain date." Marme hopes that Amy learned not to pretend to be more or less than she is or has.
Looking at Kate's comments about the house, I'm not sure that I agree. I think that a lot of the reason that the narrative focuses on Meg & "Meg's house" is because it's a story about the girls, from a Jo-centric perspective. John is really a bit character, for all that he's to be Meg's husband. Jo is still in denial about their little nest breaking up. She's convinced that the rest of them still have several years before they get married, even though Amy is constantly receiving attention from Laurie's friends. In addition, because the focus is on the March girls, the focus naturally falls upon her preparations to go from homemaker-in-training to Homemaker-in-chief.
One thing that I loved about chapter 24 was the comments on the beautiful gifts and services that Meg's family & friends had done for her as she prepares to manage her own home:
People who hire all these things done for them never know what they lose, for the homeliest tasks get beautified if loving hands do them, and Meg found so many proofs of this that everything in her small nest, from the kitchen roller to the silver vase on her parlor table, was eloquent of home love and tender forethought. -page 237
I've recently been coming to a similar conclusion myself, though I don't think I would have been able to say it so nicely! Gifts, particularly hand-made gifts, are physical reminders of the love of friends and family. And because they made all her ordinary things, sheets & dishcloths, in addition to giving her things that you might think of as more "regular" gifts, vases and paintings, she will remember her family's love as she uses them in ordinary, every day chores. And really, you use a dishcloth much more often than you notice a vase or a painting! At least, I do. Even when I love it (such as the painting my sister made me), it tends to fade into the background. Maybe the sheets & things would do the same. I don't know. But I remember thinking that the dishcloth Sister C. gave us, hand knitted, was the coolest thing! I recently started knitting and I hope that the things I've given away have said, "I love you and even the mundane things you do are important enough to recognize and enjoy."
The focus on Meg's new home seems fitting in light of Mrs. March's ambition for her daughters:
I want my daughters to be beautiful, accomplished, and good; to be admired, loved, and respected; to have a happy youth, to be well and wisely married, and to lead useful, pleasant lives... To be loved and chosen by a good man is the best and sweetest thing which can happen to a woman, and I sincerely hope my girls may know this beautiful experience. ... My dear girls, I am ambitious for you... make this home happy, so that you may be fit for homes of your own, if they are offered to you, and contented here if they are not." -Chapter 9, page 99-100.
I think she was onto something. President Benson also spoke highly of the domestic art of homemaking:
“Teach your daughters to prepare for life’s greatest career—that of homemaker, wife, and mother. Teach them to love home because you love home. Teach them the importance of being a full-time mother in the home.
“My eternal companion has wisely counseled mothers: ‘Radiate a spirit of contentment and joy with homemaking. You teach by example your attitude toward homemaking. Your attitude will say to your daughters, ‘I am only a housewife.’ Or it will convey, ‘Homemaking is the highest, most noble profession to which a woman might aspire.’ ”
Like so many other aspects of this book, I find this section inspires me to be a bit better at keeping my own home. So many of the comfortable ways these girls were raised with are a thing of the past, and I think that our homes suffer for it. Sure, it's a lot of work to keep a home nice, but we are commanded not to be idle. Our homes are supposed to be "house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God... " (D&C 109:8) I have been finding my own efforts at homemaking to be somewhat wanting and have been working on improving myself in this area recently. I still have a long way to go before I can do it as well as Mrs. March. I suspect that even Meg would be able to teach me a thing or two about getting things done and still having time for some of the other things I like to do. Or she might just tell me that there is so much that is easier for me, due to modern conveniences, that I should roll up my sleeves, do the little work I have to do, and enjoy the fruits of my labor.