The Big Read

No.18 – Little Women, Louisa May Alcott Read 22/12/13

I missed a few days. I am very sorry I have no excuse other than I went away to my new house for a few days and didn’t have an internet connection. But I am back now so let’s talk about Little Women. If you are wondering how come I only read one book that month it is because I tried again with David Copperfield before giving up again to read something different.

It only took me three days to read and I became surprisingly engrossed in the story. What I liked about it was how the story would move between the four sisters so you never got too bored. It is incredibly quaint in the subjects it covers, I loved the sitting by the fire sock knitting scenes, and it reflects the innocence of the characters in its tone. There is a little bit of the old un-subtle religious ideas floating around but I am willing to over look that. It is an ‘old-fashioned’ story much in the same vein as Black Beauty and it trundles along quite nicely and you think you know how it will end…

*Spoiler alert coming up*

And then Beth gets sick. Now I knew what happened to Beth from that episode of Friends where Joey and Rachel swap favourite books and Little Women gets put in the freezer, but that didn’t prepare me for the fact that she recovers and then gets sick again. No not okay. It is said that everyone has a March sister that they identify with most and for me it was Beth. It is a little worrying when you identify most with the most tragic character in a novel.

Also how did Jo and Laurie not end up together? I was sure that was going to happen. Then again that is what I really liked about this book. It is a story about social expectation; what it means to be a little women. But not everyone fits that social ideal. Meg does, but she isn’t forced into a life she doesn’t want. Jo who doesn’t fit the mould at all disregards all expectations and does her own thing, that is why I think it would’ve been wrong if she had married Laurie. Then poor Beth, would’ve been an excellent little women but never got the chance. And proud Amy, who knows she is an ideal little women and it has made her vain, so she is no longer perfect.

There is romance in the story but it is primarily about family life and the coming of age of young girls. The balance feels realistic, yes the girls have to deal with boys and heartbreak etc. but it is not the centre of their lives, they develop as people and as a family. I find that much more interesting than moping teenage girls that so often occupy novels today. I am really glad I read it because it is one of the first books I have read on the challenge which I really felt had literary merit. Some how when reading it I could see how it has shaped society and influenced peoples lives. It certainly isn’t the best book I have read but it feels like one of the most important.

Rating: 3/5

Would recommend to: teenage girls

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