Author: Louisa May Alcott
Title: Little Women
Narrator: C. M. Hebert
Publication Info: Blackstone Audio, Inc. (2010) [Originally published in 1868 and 1869]
I want to see Greta Gerwig’s new adaptation of Little Women, but despite living most of my life in New England, and the past 22 years in Massachusetts, I’ve failed to read this book. So I’m filling in that gap in my cultural experience.
As is often the case with classic novels, I find it hard to write a review that says anything that hasn’t been said before. But I did enjoy this book, which could be old-fashioned at times, but startlingly progressive for its era and still relevant in many ways.
The novel is the coming of age story for the March sisters – Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy – living in a fictionalized version of Concord, Massachusetts in the 1860s. When the story begins, their father is away from home, serving as a pastor in the Civil War, and even when he returns he is a benevolent background characters. As the title clearly states, this is a women’s story, which only seems fair since many novels set in time of war exclude women entirely. The only prominent male character throughout the novel is the boy next door, Laurie, who becomes a close friend of the March sisters.
Meg is the oldest, who takes a lot of responsibility for raising her younger sisters and maintaining the household. She’s married in the second part of the book and has some very relatable problems dealing with toddlers who don’t want to go to bed. Jo is the second daughter, who struggles with the limitations placed on girls and women of the time, and expectations to marry. She loves literature and drama, and becomes a writer over the course of the novel. Not surprisingly, she is the character who is most similar to Alcott herself. Beth is sweet and shy, and something of the family’s conscience. She has a very close relationship with Jo. Beth contracts scarlet fever early in the novel and remains very sickly. The youngest, Amy, is vain and materialistic as the story begins, but matures considerable over the course of the novel. She becomes a talented artist.
I shan’t summarize further, but should you be like me and not have read it yet, I suggest you give it a try.