Sunday, September 16, 2007

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

I selected Little Women for this challenge for, among many reasons, to get reacquainted with the March sisters before I read March by Geraldine Brooks. It also gave me an opportunity to learn more about two fellow bloggers, Alyson and Lucca, who I have read other books from their lists for this challenge. Here is what they said about Little Women:

"This is one of the first "great books" I read, as a young girl in elementary school, and one that I have read and re-read. I love Jo March. I respect her ambition, creativity, and stubborn-ness and think I share those qualities. She taught me at an early age that girls can strive for anything, and with hard work may just achieve their dreams." – Alyson

"I still go back to the book to battle my blues. I still go back to the little wisdoms." – Lucca

I have mixed feelings about this book, which I enjoyed when I was a young girl. Here is my review:

Little Women is a favorite American classic for many, but for this reader, I enjoyed the story so much more when I was a 10-year old girl. As I reread this story, I found myself rolling my eyes at the sweet goodness that is the March sisters. The allegories, the constant efforts to improve themselves and ever-apologetic stance about their faults (faults, I would argue, that made them interesting to read about) left me an impatient reader.

Certainly, Jo March was more the exception than the rule, and I am guessing that is why many modern readers enjoy this story. Jo is an independent spirit – smart, big-mouthed, creative and sure of herself, especially as she becomes a young woman. She settles for nothing, including marrying a man she loves instead of marrying a man she was obligated to love. She supports herself through her writings and is a devoted daughter and sister – all in all, an interesting character to read.

Little Women, for all my restlessness, is definitely a portrait of its time. In that aspect, I admire and respect its representation of the time in which the sisters lived. I am looking forward to March by Geraldine Brooks, which is a modern rendition of this story from the dad’s point of view. I am very curious to see how the sisters are portrayed by Brooks.

Overall, I was entertained and enjoyed the second half of the book much better than the first. However, I almost regret rereading it. I think Little Women would have been better in my memory as a precious coming-of age-tale, perfect for the 10-year old dreamer that was me.


Trish said...

I recently re-read this one as well and wrote many of the same sentiments in my blog. And, it seems as though many many people share the same feelings that perhaps this book was best left in childhood. On the other hand, I have heard GREAT things about March, so I hope you enjoy it!

tinylittlelibrarian said...

Hmmm, March sounds really interesting, thanks for mentioning it.

It's sad when adulthood wrecks childhood things, isn't it? But sometimes unavoidable. I remember enjoying Little Women, but not being at all pleased with the ending.