First, if you haven’t voted for the October Reading Buddies book via the poll in the sidebar, be sure to do so! I’ll be announcing October’s selection a week from today. As previously selected, September’s book will be Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh.
Second, I must apologize for the lack of interaction on my part this month. I’ve been away, with only minimal Internet access, and most posts have been scheduled. I’ve had a few opportunities to skim through comments, though, and they are appreciated! I’ll be back in home territory and playing catch-up soon.
And now, on to the matter at hand: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Beware — spoilers ahead!
Well. Having now read both parts of Alcott’s classic, I have to say, I liked Part 1 better. I find that a little odd, seeing as the “little women” are closer to my own age in Part 2 and should theoretically have interested me more. I think perhaps as children the March girls are endearing, but as adults they are just a shade annoying. Also, children seem to work well enough as flat characters, while I expect adults to have a bit more depth, a characteristic I found a bit lacking in Little Women.
That being said, I did mostly enjoy the novel overall. Though they bothered me at first, I got used to Alcott’s preachy little lessons and, I think, subconsciously lowered the bar for what I expected of Part 2 after listening to Part 1. I can see why it’s a classic, and I can also understand why it is so beloved by children. As I mentioned in my previous Reading Buddies post, many people seem to love the book more if they read it as a child, and I think the same would have been true for me.
I spent much of Part 2 waiting for Laurie to marry someone other than Jo, one of the few plot points I recalled going into the book. I had thought it would be Meg, so when she married John at the end of Part 1, I was confused. When Laurie and Amy finally got together and Jo married her professor, I took a few minutes to consider how I felt about the way things had turned out. I came to the conclusion that I really do like where Jo ended up. It didn’t feel at all wrong or forced to me for her to marry Bhaer, or open a school, or have a few kids of her own. I was a bit disappointed that she gave up her literary dreams, though. Amy and Laurie, on the other hand, I did not like at all! It’s not that I think Laurie should have ended up with Jo — something I may not have realized as a kid but can understand now. Amy annoyed me throughout, and Laurie changed his mind so fast from one sister to another that once their future as a couple became clear, I sort of wrote them off and stopped paying attention to their story line. What would I have preferred? I sort of think Amy should have married Fred over in Europe. Laurie might have stayed single, or perhaps married some other character Alcott didn’t include. After such a long friendship with the March sisters, it seemed somehow wrong that he chose one to settle down with. Where do you stand on this ever controversial issue?
I’ve heard very little about Louisa May Alcott’s other novels and have read none of them. Have you tried them? If so, how do they compare? If not, after reading Little Women, do you think you’d give her others a try?