Based on the author’s life, Little Women transcends genre, gender, and class with its examination of personal quests, societal restrictions, family ties, and the end of innocence.
I’d like to confess up front, I avoided reading this book for most of my life simply because of the title. It sounded so… painfully feminine. And as someone who’s struggled to make peace with their biological gender, I felt some sort of misplaced obligation to resist exposure to something that could so clearly hold no interest for me.
I was horrendously mistaken.
This is a sweeping family drama, set during the American Civil War. Languidly paced and often treading on the poetic side, it centers on the March family—specifically on the four young sisters who are all close in age—as they grow up throughout the book. There’s Meg, the kind and responsible eldest; Josephine, our tomboy protagonist (who happens to be based semi-autobiographically on the author herself); Beth, the quiet and virtuous; and Amy, the somewhat vain and more shallow-minded youngest of the four sisters. Their family is somewhat poor, and girls spend a good deal of their childhood coming up with interesting and artful methods of amusing/distracting themselves while their minister father goes off to serve Union soldiers as a chaplain.
I’m not really doing the characters any justice here, but it’s their growth, development, and chemistry that largely, and successfully, drove the narrative. There are undercurrents of empathy-building, imaginative fancy, gratefulness and optimism in the face of trials, along with a coming-of-age element experienced across several very different personalities within the same family unit.
For obvious reasons, I connected with the character of Jo from the very beginning. While the era, being what it was, would have made it particularly difficult to be a more independent and masculine-bent female, Jo had the benefit of the unconditional love and support of her family. Perhaps most significantly, she had an encouraging father who at no point made her feel limited by (or inferior on account of) her sex. Her struggle with herself, the world’s stifling expectations, and her own goals, is something most readers may be able to relate to.
“I keep turning over new leaves, and spoiling them, as I used to spoil my copybooks; and I make so many beginnings there never will be an end.”
As a part of my needless resistance to this classic, I decided to listen to this one in audio book. I don’t regret that move. This particular narrator (Andrea Emmes) did a masterful (mistressful?) job of bringing the cast to life. With four sisters as main characters, I was concerned about not being able to tell voices apart. But Emmes made the experience into more of a richly layered auditory play than a simple reading.
*“I'd rather take coffee than compliments just now.”
* “There are many Beths in the world, shy and quiet, sitting in corners till needed, and living for others so cheerfully that no one sees the sacrifices till the little cricket on the hearth stops chirping, and the sweet, sunshiny presence vanishes, leaving silence and shadow behind.”
Everyone is no doubt familiar this opening line. It comes from Little Women, the beloved classic of the four young March girls. Meet sixteen-year-old Meg, the plump and matronly oldest sister; Jo, the awkward and rambunctious tomboy; Amy, the spoiled and artistic blond; and Beth, the quiet and reserved youngest sister. With their father away at war, the girls grow up under the watchful eye of Marmee.
Of course, the March family is not perfect, which is why we love them. Meg succumbs to vanity a party when she borrows a dress that is far too stiff with a train that is far too long. She also fears during dances that her earrings will fall off. Jo refuses to forgive her sister Amy for an act of vengeance, until a skating disaster reunites them. Amy receives the strap at school for ignoring a rule about candy. And Beth loses a beloved bird during a disastrous week when the girls experiment with idleness. Even the one who most often instills moral guidance, Mrs. March, admits that it’s taken her over forty years to only partially cure her anger.
While the entire family is creative, Jo is the writer amongst them. This is my main reason for liking her best. We’re both always reading. Jo likes to receive books as presents, is most attracted to homes where the owners have libraries, and typically cites examples from literature to prove her points. We’re also both always writing. Jo writes plays and contributes news to the family newsletter. She loves sharing stories about what happens in her life. I also most identify with her habit of getting herself into scrapes.
Despite the absence of their father, the family is close knit. The Marches sing together. They help the needy, even to the point of giving up their Christmas breakfast to help a starving family. Not being rich themselves, they produce their own plays and a family newspaper for entertainment. Under the moral direction of their mother, they also learn many life lessons. I embraced many of the principles myself such as refusing to let the sun go down on my anger. Little Women continues to be one of my favorite girl books.
This is a tocuhing story, a beautiful book, beautifully written. The story of a family, going thru a lot of things, good and bad things, and they always support each other and know how to look at the bright side.
Is really good, you will enjoy it no matter how many times you read it.
The four March sisterswarm and fashionable Meg, literary and tomboyish Jo, frail and angelic Beth, and lovely but vain Amylive in Civil War New England. With their father off to war, they grow and learn to be better women under the ever-patient guide of their mothers hand. Lessons in humility, romance, friendship, loss, and joy occur to the March sisters in a variety of scenarios which have been pleasingly narrated for us by the character-writer Alcott. Never dull, and full of important morals and fun, it is no wonder that LITTLE WOMEN remains a beloved classic over a century after it was first published.
Though this book was written in the 1800's, a lot of the content still applies today.
The characters are individual and comical, and you learn to love them. The plot is funny, with a few unexpected twists.
The book is simple, but sweet, and teaches important values.
I don't know about you, but I thought Little Women was fantastic. I'v read it a million times...and yes, my opinion has changed. When I first read it, I still thought it was great, but I didn't understand parts of it, and was a bit dissapointed with the ending. When I read it a second and third time, though, I got to apprieciate the whole meaning of the story. Personally, I thought it was a touching story of a loving family...I loved the characters, the closeness of the friends and families; a beautiful, timeless classic.
I appreciate that this book is a classic, but it didn't sit too well with me. It would have been better to read it in the time period it was written. The characters were pretty nerve-racking, and the plot was a tad thin. Also, I was annoyed by the constant reminders of a womans supposed place. Beautifully written, but very over-rated.
Little Women is considered one of the greatest American classics of all time. I thought so too, because it tells the life stories of four sisters growing up in 19th century America. It is kind of like The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants in a way, because in the 2nd part of the novel, each chapter tells about one of the girls. I liked reading about the four March sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth (wish she didn't die), and Amy. I read this book when I was 9, but didn't know its true meaning until I read it again. This book is one of the greatest girl books of all time!
This was a surprising book full of laughs and tears just like any good book ought to have. Jo was confused in love, and she suffered a loss of her unguided acts. But as we al do, she moved on. And although I was disapointed in the ending, I think everyone who has read this book will agree -- it is the most colorful book a reader could ask for.
Till Next Time -Aimee
Unfortunately due to a revealing Friends episode (you know the one I mean!), I knew half of the main things that happened in this book before I even picked it up. However, it's beautifully written and easy to read and understand - unlike a lot of classics, which are so garbled it's no wonder you have to study them at school to understand them.
The book has two parts, and I must say, I loved the first part with a dozen passions. The second part was disappointment after disappointment - not because it was bad, don't get me wrong - but as in life, things don't always turn out the way you want them to.
This story will most likely make you smile, sob, and want to tear out specific pages in the hope it would stop certain things from happening. Were I to read it again, I'd read it only halfway and then just pretend everything ended the way I wanted it to. ;)
Four sisters and their mother have to deal with their father being away at war. Meanwhile they meet friends and love interests, grow up and deal with the trials and tribulations of life, and learn to become better people. Marriage proposals, arguments, jobs, illness and heartache are but a few of the things they are forced to deal with, but no matter what, they never stop loving one another.