Little Women By Louisa May Alcott

A new movie is coming out December 25th...

I've never read it so I might have to do a readalong for it that month! 488 I hated this book.

I can't even begin to go into all the reasons I dislike this novel. It's dull and preachy through out most of it--aside from Jo who is a truly inspired character. But everyone else seems one note, most of the chapters come off as morality plays than solid scenes or plots. And just when Miss Alcott has something seemingly interesting she breaks it for no other reason than to do something.

Whether its the pairing of Amy and Laurie (huh?), the point made CONSTANTLY that Beth's life isn't useless because she is an angel and showed them that angels do exist and is a total Mary Sue(Really? Cause I'm glad she died before I died of boredom), the forced pairing of Jo and the Professor (Why? I mean--really... Just keep her single) there is also the message that pursing art is selfish. (Jo giving up her writing, Laurie gives up his music, Amy gives up her sketching...)

It's not a message I expected--this book is always lauded as one that has inspired countless girls... To do what? Because outside of Jo's sipirt I dont really see much to aspire to in this tsory? The overall message seems to be that as a good Christian one should sacrifice being an artist, being in love with who you want and any hope of independence...

It's not because I'm from the modern era that I dislike this book. (Or that I'm an adult reading it.) If you look at other works being done in the same time period you will see that there were stories with less moralizing being done--including by Miss Alcott herself. I was just really disappointed 488 that feeling when you spend the majority of the book desperately longing to be a jo, but then end up realising youre actually just a beth… :/

also, the fact that i still like laurie, even after he messes around in france trying to “find himself,” says a lot more about me than it does about him, to be fair.

and dont even get me started on the new film coming out. the casting definitely has me feeling some kind of way. im still not over the precision of timothée chalamet as laurie, the literary character who embodies so many young peoples first experience with f-boi heartbreak. i mean, will you just LOOK at my son!?

jo + laurie 4 ever, amirite ladies?!

3.5 stars 488 Never liked this one. I read Alcott back around the time I was first reading the Brontes and Dickens, and her books always struck me as incredibly dull in comparison. I was probably about 12, though, so I suppose I should try it again someday. 488 This book means SISTERHOOD... FAMILY… HAPPINESS…TOGETHERNESS… THANKFULNESS… GENUINENESS…SOLIDARITY…BELIEFS… RESPECT…UNCONDITIONAL LOVE…HONESTY…KINDNESS…


This is magical book, when I get into my hands for the first time, I was only eleven and for decades I kept on getting it into my hands, reread it several times and same words resonated different for me, awoke different feelings, made me look at the characters’ flaws and differences at brand new perspective.
Even though I know the ending: I laughed, I cried, I sighed, I smiled, I jumped, I felt peaceful and at the end I LOVED IT TRULY, DEEPLY so MUCH! Christmas is coming. You think there won’t be Christmas without presents and I think there won’t be any meaningful celebration without doing my yearly reading of this book and reconnecting with Holly March Sisterhood. Joe (tomboy, book-worn, hot-tempered, writer, definitely closer to my character), Meg (Romantic, sweet-natured, peace maker older sister), Beth ( sweet, shy, cute, friendly, fallen angel, musical prodigy) and Amy (spoiled, childish, artistic, elegant, refined youngest one): I LOVE YOU BOTH.


It is why this book is always my all-time favorite one! Time to reconnect with the sisters and feeling the best holiday spirit! 488

I’M IN LOVE, I’M IN LOVE, AND I DON’T CARE WHO KNOWS IT!

When I was a child, my mother used to drag me to antique stores all the time. There is nothing more boring to a kid than an antique store. It smelled like dust and old people, and everything looked the same (dark wood), and if we were in a particularly bauble-heavy shop I had to clasp my hands behind my back like a Von Trapp child in order to avoid invoking the you-break-it-you-buy-it policy on a $42 crystal ashtray.

On one such excursion, when I was like eight, I found a vintage-ish copy of Little Women. Because it was a book, and because it had some kind of illustration of pretty girls in pretty dresses, it was far and away the most interesting thing in there. So I indulged in what was then and what remains one of my favorite pastimes: asking my mother to buy me something. She said no, both because it was confusingly expensive and because she doubted eight-year-old me’s lasting interest in reading a 750-page book from 1868.

Ever since, Little Women has tantalized me.

I am very pleased to say it lived up to every expectation.

This book is so cozy and delightful and happy. A lot of the time, when series start out in the childhood of characters and then follow their growing up, the book gets worse. But I always liked reading about this ragtag group of gals!!

Warning, spoiler ahead, and if you complain about me spoiling a book that was published seven of my lifetime ago I will absolutely freak out so don’t say I didn’t give you a heads up:

Obviously Jo and Laurie were meant for each other, and his marrying Amy and Jo’s marrying some random old dude was the biggest flaw of this book. But even with that, this book ended happy, and I enjoyed almost every second of it.

(Okay, I’m sorry, but Amy is the clear weak link and didn’t deserve Laurie!! I will not rejoice for them!!) (Did I have to take off a half star for that alone? Yes. Because it upset me immensely. And I won’t apologize. If anyone should be apologized to, it’s ME. And also JO. And also LAURIE!)

But absolutely every other second was a pleasure.

Bottom line: This book feels like Christmas.

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pre-review

cozy: ✓
comforted: ✓
joy: ✓

review to come!!!

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currently-reading updates

I am ready to feel COZY. I am ready to feel COMFORTED. I am ready to feel JOY. 488 Someone I know claimed this no longer has value, that she would never recommend it because it's saccharine, has a religious agenda, and sends a bad message to girls that they should all be little domestic homebodies. I say she's wrong on all counts. This is high on my reread list along with Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, and a Tree Grows in Brooklyn--you could say that I'm pretty familiar with it.

Let's see--there's a heroine who not only writes, but is proud of the fact and makes a profit from it in a time that this was somewhat out-of-the-ordinary. Reading this, and especially knowing later that the main character is (for all practical purposes) Alcott herself, inspired me to write myself, and I haven't forgotten the writing lessons even today: don't let money cloud your vision, write for yourself first, take criticism, write what you know. Still wise even today. Also in this book, we see the perspective of a family coping with the financial and emotional strain of having a loved one away at war, something that is unfortunately all too relatable today. There's also (extraordinary in those times, common in ours)a platonic, though not uncomplicated, friendship between a man and a woman that is sort of a different kind of love story in a way and a powerful one at that. We see people getting married, but marriage is never portrayed as The Answer to Everything--many of the matches involve sacrifice and struggling. The girls, though good at heart, aren't a picture-perfect family of saints. They're flawed and human. The paragon Beth would seem the exception, but the message with her is more about how even the quietest among us can make an impact on the world--not parading her isolated life as an example, only her kindness.

I won't lie. Someone dies, there's a war and a father's away--so yes, God is mentioned: I think there's a few Pilgrim's Progress references in passing and there's some talk of faith at moments when the characters most need it. To contemporary readers, this may seem like a lot, but heavy-handed it is not. It was probably somewhat unusual for its time. The thought that everyone's relationship and perception of God could greatly vary, and that to be true to your religion was entirely non judgmental and meant being kind to other people and trying to make yourself better, not other people? The thought that each person must be allowed to deal with these feelings in their own time in their own way? Wacky stuff.

I admit it seems like a tough sell to today's kids, packaged in somewhat formal sounding-language, and bearing every indication of being literary broccoli, but this book is a classic for a reason. It might be a tough sell, but I don't think we should give up on trying to think of ways to do it anyway. What's inside still counts. Don't write it off.

*note* for those of you who liked this review, check out my review of the new The Little Women Cookbook by Jenne Bergstrom and Miko Osada. 488 Yes, yes. I AM a grown-ass man reading this, but I'm not even remotely ashamed.

What I tried to do here was dispel the extra melodrama & embrace the cut-outs (fat trimmed out) of the Winona Ryder film. I was on the hunt for all the new (ha!) stuff that the regular person, well informed of the plot involving four young girls growing up (or in the case of Beth, not) never even knew existed. But it seems that the film did a great job not adding many more scenes than direly needed (like the Byrne-Ryder night at the opera scene-- it explains why she doesn't choose Laurie after all) nor taking indispensable scenes from the century-&-a-half old novel to the cutting room floor. Alas, there's a good reason why Entertainment Weekly once decreed that the film was a great comfort to all post-911 victims--a holistic healing to the nation as a whole. The story has no great battles to speak of... no violence, no terrible disasters. The minutiae is symbolic of fragile domestic existences... important & very fun to read about--this coming from a Bridget and Carrie Bradshaw fan of course. Little Women is at its core all about Old School American values, such as temperance, forgiveness, hard work. It has astute lessons aplenty--to rival even old Aesopus himself. Laurie and Amy have the best lines, & there are plenty of groans amidst cute vignettes and harsh but necessary life lessons--for Americans and non alike. This is relevant today, more so than On the Road or other so called quintessential American classics--& that's a genuine plus.

This one stands as outstanding soap opera theatrics woven intelligently with American history herself. Good stuff, like a wise mentor of American Lit would say. Also, mega appropriate for the season!

(2014) 488 we stan.
https://youtu.be/KREaj07OEfU 488

Galentine's Day is right around the corner...so why not curl up with a good book? Check out my latest BooktTube Video - all about five fabulous books on female friendship!

The Written Review


“Don't try to make me grow up before my time…”
The March sisters may be radically different but they all have one thing in common - love.

Their love for their mother and father, their love for adventure and for each other unites them in this troubled time.

The Civil War is afoot and all the sisters can do is think about their father away and in battle. Their mother tries to distract them but often she can barely distract herself.

Jo, a radical tomboy and aspiring author - rallies her family with her amusing plays and scribbles.
I like good strong words that mean something…
Meg, the beautiful sister, often puts her family first and holds them together when her mother cannot.
You don’t need scores of suitors. You need only one… if he’s the right one.
Amy, the youngest, was spoiled as a child and oh my, it shows. But even she can rally when life looks darkest.
I'd rather take coffee than compliments just now.
Beth, sweet and good-natured, valiantly cheers on her sisters but her frail health often keeps her at the sidelines.
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...
The sisters must face hardships their New England home.

They must face things that they never would have thought possible.

But, even in the darkest of times, they will have each other. And that is most important of all.
Watch and pray, dear, never get tired of trying, and never think it is impossible to conquer your fault.
This is probably my fifth or sixth time through and yes, I am totally going to read it again.

There's just something about this book that's absolutely gorgeous and timeless.

I love the sisters and their relationships with each other - I see so much of myself and my cousins with their day-to-day interactions.

Jo, the darling, is the perfect mix of strength and fear. Watching her grow from a brash girl to confident young woman just makes my heart happy.
You are the gull, Jo, strong and wild, fond of the storm and the wind, flying far out to sea, and happy all alone.
And the message of the book! Ahh. My heart. So full.

It often feels like the messages from books in the mid 1800s are saccharine sweet or so heavy-handed with their themes that they're ridiculous. (Just look at the later Anne of Green Gables if you'd like an example!)

But this one had just the right mixture of loving family + religion + life lessons. It was beautifully balanced.
Be worthy love, and love will come.
That being said, I do absolutely hate that .

I swear, every time I reread this series, I practically rediscover that fact (my brain is incredibly good at selective memory-ing those sorts of things)...which makes it awful all the more.

Oh, and am I the only one who's still bitter over who Jo ends up with? This book may have been published in 1868 but this is my hill and I WILL DIE ON IT!

But don't let that spoil your interpretation - this book is truly wonderful. I love it.

Audiobook Comments
Read by Kate Reading - can I just take a moment for us all to appreciate the the narrator is Kate Reading? Her last name is absolute perfection.

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Louisa May Alcott Ì 5 Free download

Little

Generations of readers young and old, male and female, have fallen in love with the March sisters of Louisa May Alcott’s most popular and enduring novel, Little Women. Here are talented tomboy and author-to-be Jo, tragically frail Beth, beautiful Meg, and romantic, spoiled Amy, united in their devotion to each other and their struggles to survive in New England during the Civil War.

It is no secret that Alcott based Little Women on her own early life. While her father, the freethinking reformer and abolitionist Bronson Alcott, hobnobbed with such eminent male authors as Emerson, Thoreau, and Hawthorne, Louisa supported herself and her sisters with woman’s work,” including sewing, doing laundry, and acting as a domestic servant. But she soon discovered she could make more money writing. Little Women brought her lasting fame and fortune, and far from being the girl’s book” her publisher requested, it explores such timeless themes as love and death, war and peace, the conflict between personal ambition and family responsibilities, and the clash of cultures between Europe and America.

Little Women