Publisher: Penguin Classics
Publication Date: August 2018
This was my first time reading this book as an adult and while I do have some newfound critiques, I also, at different parts, connected to this book on a deeper level than before. As a teenager I read Little Women a lot and so I am intimately familiar with the story and the characters. Of course, all the things that make this book iconic are things that I still loved and cried over. But I did find that reading this now was a more enriching experience for me.
Little Women is broken into two books and I have no complaints about the first book. It is a moving story about a family who used to have money and now have none. They also are without their father who is fighting in the war and they are trying to do their best to keep their spirits up. The four sisters are all amazing characters in their own right and I love how they all perceive and interact with the world. I also feel that their story, relationships, troubles and triumphs are realistic. Alcott does an amazing job of bringing to life the time the March sisters were alive. I also think that Alcott is a master storyteller because all of her side characters bring so much to the story. Mr. Laurence, Hannah, Laurie, Fritz, etc. all add different elements to the story that couldn’t exist without them.
I was disappointed (which is hard for me to admit!) when I started the second book of the novel because it definitely reads a lot like mini morality stories. For a lot of the second half each chapter was its own self contained story that served as a lecture for how we should behave and/or think. They still continued to push the narrative forward but at a much slower pace. And this is where the conundrum lies for me because as much as I hate preachy books I also found some value in what Alcott was saying. Also, it is important to note that Little Women is broken up into two books because that’s how it was originally published. The second half of this book was given it’s own title, Good Wives, so it makes sense that the two books are so disjointed.
I think that everyone who reads this will get different things out of it but for me I was particularly touched by the stories that offered advice on marriage and motherhood. Obviously as a teenager reading this book both those things were not anything that I had experience with. And while the advice given could be outdated depending on your beliefs I felt that there was some good ideas to be taken. For example, one that I have learned the hard way, is to not let pride come between you and your husband (or wife, girlfriend, boyfriend etc). Another one that I really liked was about how we can warn our kids that something is not a good idea but if they choose not to listen than it is better to let them learn it through experience. As my kids are getting older I can definitely see this being advice that I use.
I also feel like I should mention that I am a Christian and Little Women is heavily formed on Alcott’s own religious beliefs. I don’t think that she had any religion in specific that she followed, rather she was just a believer in God. I think that for someone who doesn’t believe in religion or God might find this book heavy handed in that regard and would probably not enjoy this book as much as I did.
This is the first book I read for the #ClassicsCommunity 2020 year long readathon that is going on. I’m so happy that I participated and also picked this book first because this book was heartwarming, funny, sad and uplifting which is exactly what I needed at the time I was reading it. I will for sure be rereading this book in the future. I also never realized that this book is the first in a trilogy and I am reading the second book, Little Men sometime this month. I am excited to dive into that book and see how well Alcott carries on the story of this amazing family.