Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Book Review: Little Women

  Title: Little Women
Author: Louisa May Alcott
Source: Personal Copy

Goodreads Summary

Little Women is recognized as one of the best-loved classic children's stories, transcending the boundaries of time and age, making it as popular with adults as it is with young readers. The beloved story of the March girls is a classic American feminist novel, reflecting the tension between cultural obligation and artistic and personal freedom. But which of the four March sisters to love best? For every reader must have their favorite. Independent, tomboyish Jo; delicate, loving Beth; pretty, kind Meg; or precocious and beautiful Amy, the baby of the family? The charming story of these four "little women" and their wise and patient mother Marmee enduring hardships and enjoying adventures in Civil War New England was an instant success when first published in 1868 and has been adored for generations.

My Thoughts:

I feel like this book is epic is scope and length and content, that I am going to break my review down a bit. This will contain spoilers so if you haven't read this book, then please do not read anything after this paragraph. Also, if you haven't read Little Women yet, I highly recommend it, especially at this time of year. I think it fills you with a lightness of spirit and generosity, and reminds you that what is important in life is not a what, but those that you love.


Beth's Death: I might as well start off with a big one. Sweet, kind, gentle, Beth dying. Do we know what she died from? She had scarlet fever as a young teen, that she got when she helped the Hummel family down the street that had a million kids. It is like she recovered from the scarlet fever, but not really. It was like all of a sudden Jo just knew Beth was dying, years later, and Beth was like yep I am. Yet she didn't want to see a doctor, and everyone in the family accepted that she was dying, and did nothing about it. I remember crying my eyes out when I read this when I was younger; as an adult, I was sad, but really only teared up when something of Beth's was pointed out in the narration, like her sewing that she put down one day and never picked up again. Poor Beth, who never really lived at all.

Jo: I have always had a love/hate relationship with Josephine "Jo" March. I could relate to a character that loved to read and write and eat apples, but she also got on my nerves. She was always such a loud character to me, and I don't enjoy being around loud people very much. I also could relate to her temper getting her into hot water. I just wish she was a little quieter.

Jo and Laurie: Ok seriously? How do these two not happen? One of the reasons I get annoyed with Jo, I think is Laurie. Best friends from childhood, these two know and understand each other better than anyone else. They are always in each others pockets, getting into scrapes, helping each other through rough times, family in heart. It seems only natural that they would end up together one day. But they don't! Jo turns Laurie down, breaking the heart of Laurie - and the reader. If two character should ever have ended up together, it was these two. But Alcott didn't give us this happy ending. Instead we get...

Jo/Mr. Bhaer and Laurie/Amy: Talk about disappointing!! First, lets talk Laurie and Amy. Laurie runs off to Europe to nurse his broken heart, and hangs out with Amy, who is there with her aunt as a companion. Amy is the little sister, vain and selfish, grasping for aristocracy and the good life. And somehow, even though she is a complete opposite to his love Jo, he falls in love with Amy, and she with him. And they get married!!! NOOOOO!!! How could that happen?? But then to make matters worse, Jo falls in love with a German tutor/Professor, who is described as not very attractive and much older, but he does have a generous and giving heart. I did like the man, but not for Jo. Was Jo looking for another father, since her father was an absent father, due to the war? She even thinks to herself how much her father would like to have conversations with "her Professor". It's just not right. Laurie and Jo should be together.

The March Family: Oh, how I love this family. They may have archaic ideas about the gender roles of women and men, but that is due to the time period that it takes place in. The love they have for each other is very clear, as is their willingness to help each other out as much as possible, in any way they can. Fiercely loyal to one another, although they fight amongst themselves as is normal for sisters, they adore their mother, whom they call Marmee.Their goodness shines from the pages, inspiring the reader to their own good works, whether small or large.T

Amy and Meg:  I think these two sisters have similar qualities- both like the finer things in life, and covet them. Meg grows out of this, and marries Laurie's tutor. She enjoys her little home and family, and is content, with only the occasional flash of jealousy. Amy supposedly matures on her European trip, but I don't see it too much. I think it is weird she just marries Laurie without even checking with Jo. I mean, I guess she doesn't have to, since Jo has made her feelings known, but it does feel like she is breaking some sort of sister code.

Although the book frustrates me in parts, I genuinely did enjoy it. Everything works out in their little world, for better or for worse. It is so calming and peaceful, and in the end, the family is perfectly happy with their life.


  1. I read this book for the first time last year although I watched the movie as a teen. I was so upset with the movie when Jo didn't end up with Laurie and he married Amy instead! It is still such a sweet story because of the strong bonds between the sisters and their mom. The father has a stronger presence in the book than in the movie but it still very much a story of women where the men are sidelined.

    I think if an author wrote it now, Jo and Laurie would have ended up together but maybe the story wouldn't have some of its charm. I never quite bought the idea of Jo and the Professor though Gabriel Byrne and Winona Ryder do their best to make it believable in the movie.

    1. I think Louisa May Alcott must have been feeling pretty contrary when she decided who Jo would marry. I was so disappointed, especially since I loved Laurie and wanted him to be happy. While I was reading this book, I saw a modern adaptation on television, called The March Sisters. It was weird, I just turned on the tv and there it was. Anyway, in that version, Jo and Laurie do not get married, and Amy and Laurie still do. I was peeved again! LOL. You would think I might get over it at some point, and stop being surprised. One change though in that movie - Beth doesn't die.

      Gabriel Byrne as the Professor made it easier to deal with. ;)


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