It's time to recap Little Women, y'all. To be honest, I don't even know where to begin. Paul Sweeney once said, "You know you've read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend." Well, I'm feeling like my very best friend just moved to Timbuktu. I stretched it on as long as I possibly could, but on Saturday, June 20th, minutes before midnight, I finished reading Little Women.
I was given my beautiful copy (the picture above is NOT of my copy) of Little Women by my grandmother on my 10th birthday. I read it immediately, of course, but as I think about it now, I believe this is only the second time I have ever read it all the way through. I have two movie adaptations of Little Women that I have watched several times throughout my life, but I believe I have only read the book twice, even though I have always said it is one of my all-time favorites (which it is).
Louisa May Alcott, the authoress of this timeless classic, lived from 1832 to 1888. As soon as she was old enough, Louisa had to go to work to help support her family. She held various jobs from teacher to seamstress to writer, and after having met with success in her writing endeavors, her publisher asked for a book for girls. This prompted Louisa to write Part I of Little Women in only six short weeks. It was published in 1868 and was an instant success. Her readers demanded a sequel, and the second volume was published a year later under the title Good Wives. Today, both parts are typically paired and sold together as one book.
Louisa May Alcott loosely based Little Women (particularly Part I) off her own childhood growing up with her three sisters, with Jo's character being Louisa's representation of herself. According to Alcott, Little Women is "simple and true, for we really lived most of it" and for that reason, it has remained one of the greatest children's novels of all time.
Little Women chronicles the lives of the March sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, and opens in the midst of the Civil War. The four sisters live with their beloved Marmee and faithful housekeeper Hannah while their father is away in the war. Once an affluent family, they have fallen on hard times and are living in poverty throughout the novel. Under the loving guidance of their wise mother, each daughter struggles against her personal vices to try to live lives pleasing to their parents and their Heavenly Father. Meg's greatest downfall is her vanity and a longing to return to their rich lifestyle so she can have all the pretty things. Jo fights against her hot temper and boyish, rowdy ways. Beth is painfully shy and works hard to overcome it, while Amy labors against her natural selfishness to become a true gentlewoman. Between Parts I and II, Little Women follows the numerous scrapes and adventures, triumphs and tragedies of these four little women from their childhood into their womanhood.
Like Vanity Fair, Little Women is more character-driven than plot-driven, but unlike Vanity Fair, Little Women is consistently a pleasure to read to the very last page. I would highly and whole-heartedly recommend Little Women to anyone, and I believe it is one of those timeless classics that ought to be read aloud by parents to their children when those children are young. As I mentioned when I began reading Little Women, this book keeps me crying and laughing from start to finish, and it truly is one that I hate to come to the end of. You can't help but relate to the struggles and victories the four sisters face on their journey of life, and see yourself on the pages of this endearing work. The wisdom and morals promoted throughout the novel are wholesome and helpful as well. Please, PLEASE go get yourself a copy, and if you have children, read it out loud with them. If you don't love it, there is seriously something wrong with you. (Yeah, I said it. #sorrynotsorry)
A few other fun facts about Little Women as relates to my reading endeavors for the year:
- The Pilgrim's Progress (which is also on my reading list) is an inspiration to the March sisters and is referenced all throughout Little Women.
- Louisa May Alcott has been called the Thackeray of the nursery and the schoolroom (which I found interesting as I just read Vanity Fair this year).
- Part I of Little Women consists of 23 chapters, and Part II consists of 24 chapters making Little Women 47 chapters and 527 pages total.
- I began reading Little Women April 12th and finished June 20th, taking my sweet time and enjoying every minute I spent in its pages.
Go read Little Women.
Have you read Little Women or seen any of the movie adaptations of it? Which sister is your favorite and why?