16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
A Timeless Work Teaches Important Lessons for Today
, 19 Aug. 2006
This review is from: Little Women (Collector's library) (Hardcover)
Having not read Little Women in many decades, I was drawn back to the book by my love of visiting the Alcott family home, Orchard House, in Concord, Massachusetts. I plan to re-visit that wonderful home and want to refresh my recollections of Little Women before doing so. By the way, if you have a chance to visit Orchard House, I strongly recommend that you do. Your sense of Little Women will expand.
As I re-read these delightful pages, I found myself comparing Little Women to Pride and Prejudice, that outstanding work that captures human psychology so well. The comparison made me see new depths in Little Women that convince me that Little Women is by far the stronger work.
But my biggest reaction was how modern the views in the book are. Women should have education, access to opportunities to develop their interests and marriage to men who will complement them. People should be concerned about each other and help one another, lest any person's life be harmed or feelings hurt in the process.
I also noticed how complete a community of loving women can be within the same family.
The writing style is beautifully spare. The key point of a chapter may turn on two or three words. And then, everything changes in the twinkling of an eye.
Being a long book, Ms. Alcott has plenty of chances to develop her characters and she does so beautifully . . . allowing Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy and Laurie to grow and change as they age.
I also came to appreciate more the scope of the book, taking the young women from teenage years through the first few years of marriage. It's a time period that few books consider. Usually, it's all over when the marriage happens. I like this approach better.
Should you read Little Women? Does the sun rise in the East?
If you haven't read Little Women, you've missed great role models for how to be a parent, spouse and child.
Here's the story in a nutshell: During the Civil War, Mr. March is away serving as a chaplain in the Union army. Mrs. March (Marmee) and her four daughters are at home in the cold north making do on small income with the help of one servant, Hannah. As the story opens, the March family is facing a frugal Christmas. But events soon take an unexpected turn and their hearts are filled with gladness. Jo makes an unexpected and most humorous acquaintance of the Laurence boy (Theodore, known as Laurie) who lives next door with old Mr. Laurance, his grandfather. The two families draw upon one another for strength and friendships grow. Illness intercedes making the two families even more dependent on one another. One by one, the children move into adulthood, deal with their romantic feelings and form their alliances.
The characters of each child are quite different, allowing Ms. Alcott to explore the contrasts by putting them together in various private and social occasions. Meg is beautiful and much admired. She should attract many suitors. Jo is energetic, self-absorbed and talented in writing (the character closest to Ms. Alcott herself). Beth is very kind and yet fragile. Amy is the social climber in the family . . . and the pet. Laurie has an artistic temperament, but finds himself expected to play an heir's role.
You'll long remember with delight the stories of their thespian performances, games, dances and social visits. Although the book makes up a wonderfully detailed novel, the chapters are written almost as stand-alone short stories that pack a powerful punch in their modeling of good behavior.
What a joy!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews
Was this review helpful to you?