I finished reading Little Women for the first time last week. I’ve seen the movie with Wynona Ryder many times, but for some reason I’d just never read the book.
I’m so glad I finally did. I loved it. Don’t let the whole 19th-century thing fool you; this is not boring or hard to get into. Alcott wrote it to get some fast cash. I don’t know if she knew that she had written an insightful and endearing classic.
The story is about four sisters: Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. They live at home with their mother and the cook, Hannah. In the first part of the book, their father is away fighting in the Civil War. Their old neighbor, Mr. Laurence, brings his young grandson, Teddy, to live with him. The girls become good friends with Teddy – especially tomboy Jo. The book is about their adventures together as they grow up, and the lessons all of them learn. Meg marries John Brooke, Teddy’s tutor, and has twins: Demi and Daisy. Teddy, or Laurie as he is also called, has fallen in love with Jo, but Jo swears her only love is her writing until she meets German Professor Baehr. Beth is the sweet, sickly sister, whose body is damaged from scarlet fever and never fully recovers. Her death is a heartbreaking moment, but the rest of the sisters make it clear that the best way to remember Beth (not only for themselves, but also for the reader) is to live as she lived: with love. Amy goes away to Europe for a few years to study art and must face the fact that she herself will never be a famous painter – but that doesn’t stop her from pursuing her passion and sharing it with others. Laurie goes to Europe to escape the pain of Jo’s rejection and spends the time with Amy. They fall in love and return to the US and marry. Jo marries Professor Baehr and they start a school for boys together.
What I loved most about this book is that it is all about the love of a family. Every character is relatable and faces real struggles that we face. Personally, I sympathizes with Meg, the oldest sister, the most. Meg marries a wonderful man and then must learn how to be a loving wife to him. It’s something I’m learning right now, too. Yes, the book has morals and lessons that each character learns, but it doesn’t at all feel preachy because most of the lessons are dealt by the gentle hand and mouth of Marmee, whom the reader loves as much as all of the March sisters love.
If you want something light-hearted but touching to read this Christmas, I highly recommend this book. And the movie’s good, too. Happy reading!