Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.
This was the latest book selected by my Bookish Broads Book Club, and I have to say I was pretty excited about reading it. It’s probably one of the few classic books that seemed to slip me by as a young girl and my cousin absolutely loves it. I’ve heard so much about the March sisters, especially Jo, and couldn’t wait to get stuck in.
But actually I wasn’t very impressed. There’s no disputing that Alcott could write but I just found a lot of it quite preachy and twee. I know that during its original publishing year this probably would have been considered the norm, but I just felt that the author was trying to teach too many virtues to its authors instead of trusting them to make their own decisions.
There’s not really a lot that happens in my opinion and what does happen is all terribly cliché and predictable. Boy moves in next door, they befriend him, he begins to fall in love with Jo, the old man turns out to be warm hearted and oh look it’s Christmas and what fun we have!
I just found it all quite droll and I really struggled to read it, I didn’t like Amy at all and found her to be very vain and materialistic which was odd considering that her ‘marmee’ and father had tried to bring her up to value people and not things. I found the first part of the book incredibly convoluted. During the second half the book, where Meg marries Brooke, I found it much more interesting. Because it actually felt like something was happening.
The characters began to change and you could define them from one another whereas in the beginning, although there were a few character traits that made them obviously different, they felt like the same person. Although Beth was always rather sickly I couldn’t help but feel that her death came out of nowhere and actually found her character quite dark and maudlin.
The only redeeming aspect of this book was the character of Jo and I actually felt that Alcott developed the relationship between Jo and the Professor quite nicely, even I found him quite charming. However it wasn’t enough to make exclaim at the end ‘What an incredible novel this is, how have I not read it sooner?!’
Star Rating out of 5: 2
‘But I have nothing to give you. My hands are empty’
Perhaps if I had read it as a young girl I may have loved it and feel differently. But I just felt it was too twee and too preachy, and I also found it hard to stomach the way women were meant to be perfect little wives when they got married and live for their husbands, which is probably another reason why I feel I connected more to Jo and the Professor’s relationship because it felt more equal. I’m keen to know other opinions on this ‘classic’ so feel free to comment below.