Sunday, 26 June 2011

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Families are really the most amazing things in the the four March sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy and their friend Laurie grow up, they encounter struggles, triumphs and griefs, and learn lessons in love, sadness and life.

I'd read this book in the children's form when I was eight or nine and bought the second part [entitled Good Wives] at the age of ten. Back then, I'd appreciated the story and enjoyed it a lot, but hadn't fully understood it. I'm glad to have read the full story in its original form- I now see lessons and morals I hadn't seen the first time and, having grown up some myself, I can empathise and connect with the characters and their wants and troubles- particularly with Jo.

What characters they are too! Meg is sure of herself and sensible, reaching for things that she shouldn't have to strain for and getting what she can safely expect. She is the pinnacle of old-fashioned womanliness and a usual first child. Jo is a great contrast to her elder sister- she represents young women of today! She is wilful and wild and ambitious. She likes her freedom and is eager for independence. Beth is the perfect child- sweet, helpful and selfless, she never thinks of herself and is brave and the strongest of the four girls. Her fate is saddening in its unfairness. Amy is a good, fashionable lady. Fond of socialising and dreaming of a life of luxury and bliss, Amy is the girl that most of us are deep down- eager to look nice, to please people and to receive wanted male attention. Laurie is a funny boy who grows up through the book in a way similar to that of Romeo. An unrequited love brings him into a mood and he is revived by a more willing recipient of his affections. He's good fun and his brotherly spirit keeps the story from being all girl.

As for the actual story- it is an outdated outlook on life, but one which can be applied to our lives all the same. Though ideas of wives being for housekeeping and things like that are expressed, it's easy to see how the story would go if it were to happen in our time. It is very sentimental and very much about how to grow up without losing your childhood. The end was near tear-inducing with its charm, simplicity and age-old beauty.

If you're a woman or girl looking for a wake-up call, some good classic novel or simply a sweet read, or even a boy who feels he might appreciate the story, I'd say "full speed ahead!" and dive into it!

My Rating: 4/5

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