Review: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

I was inspired to read this by Bex’s post about the hidden gems of Louisa May Alcott at An Armchair by the Sea here. She talks about the books that nobody’s heard of and her plan to tick some of them off her list in 2012. Well, as I read that, my Kindle was lying right there and I knew it contained a copy of Little Women… a day later and here we are.

Meet the March sisters: the talented and tomboyish Jo, the beautiful Meg, the frail Beth, and the spoiled Amy, as they pass through the years between girlhood and womanhood. A lively portrait of growing up in the 19th century with lasting vitality and enduring charm.

First off, I first read this book back in 2008 and I really didn’t get along with it at all. I thought it was preachy and twee and not a whole lot happens. This time round though, I loved it. I’m not sure why – I haven’t found religion in those three years or worked on my morality or virtues, but I liked it regardless. Funnily enough, Katie from Katie’s Book Blog said the same thing when I mentioned it on Twitter earlier (also she gets bonus points for using the word ‘twee!’). Strange. Maybe it’s just a second-time-round type of book, because I’m dying to read Good Wives already.

It really is so good though. I mean, it’s hardly action packed as it’s mostly about four sisters and their struggles to conquer their own flaws. Meg is vain about her looks, Jo is a bit of a tomboy and has a temper, Beth is shy and Amy is selfish and spoilt. It’s more interesting than that though – it’s about their relationships, feelings and little dramas as they struggle to grow up and improve themselves.

It just seems to involve you somehow. The characters are all so real, each with their own personalities that jump off the page that you care deeply about what happens to each and every one. It’s weird though – I don’t like Jo much and everybody else seems to. There isn’t a main character exactly, but it’s told from her POV more than any other and she just… irritates me. She’s always being petted, much more than Amy who’s meant to be the spoilt one, and never gets in trouble for anything, however dangerous her prank may have been.

I do like Beth though, she’s by far my favourite. She’s so gentle and sweet and never gets the recognition for it. Also, for some reason I keep picturing Amy as a very young Kirsten Dunst. Oh. I’ve just gone and researched the film and Amy is played by Kirsten Dunst. Huh. To be fair though, I didn’t picture her as she looked in the film, more as Dunst a la Interview with a Vampire.

I could still do without the preachiness as it dates the book a little, but the sisters’ genuine affection for each other is still wonderfully touching.

My copy of the book told me that Louisa May Alcott didn’t actually want to write the book in the first place and didn’t like it when it was finished. She was pressured by a publisher to do so and she consented in order to have a book of her short stories published also. I don’t enjoy this sort of thing. Never liked girls or knew many, except my sisters.’ 

Mmm. This is a bit dated but I do really recommend reading it. It’s so nice that it can’t help but cheer you if you’re feeling low.

Comments

  1. Hannah says:

    Agh comment. Yes. I was doing that. Don't mind me. Coffee.

    I'm still not convinced on this one.. I'm really not big on 19th century literature unless it's loaded with gothicy goodness. I really can't remember what I was saying, I keep getting distracted.
    (worst comment ever)

  2. I'm torn. I like nice (being overly nice is one of my things, I'm told) but I don't like preachy (which is not one of my things, I tell myself). Quite a quandry!

    There's still something about this book that just doesn't appeal to me and I can't quite put my finger on it. I think it's partly because I imagine it to be based on "old-fashioned" values that I just won't be able to identify or empathise with. That said, everyone can identify with growing up can't they? And I have a younger sister so I get that whole sisterly bonding thing so maybe I'm talking nonsense.

    I probably still won't read this but I'm a lot more likely to after having read your review than I was before reading it. So that's something!

  3. Jessica says:

    I keep meaning to read this. I tried to read it once as a teenager and gave up due to the prechyness you mention. At the time I was quite a cynical grumpy teenage and it didnt go down well with me.

  4. Young Kirsten Dunst would have made a great Amy!

    I love Little Women and have read it many times. Beth is my favourite too, but I think I'm more of an Amy …

  5. Jillian says:

    I'm definitely a Jo, though I'm a Beth and an Amy too. I love this book. I'm rereading it this year. πŸ˜€

  6. Ellie says:

    If you like the book, you really need to see the movie. It's a bit less preachy and it's FANTASTIC. One of my favourite movies for over Christmas, when it's cold outside and you just want to feel warm and cozy! πŸ™‚

  7. Tinkie says:

    I really want to read this book πŸ™‚

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