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Reading Buddies Wrap-Up: “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott

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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.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (audiobook cover)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?

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  • http://jillianreadsbooks2.wordpress.com/ Jillian

    I’ve only read Alcott’s Hospital Sketches beyond Little Women so far. It’s an account of her brief time volunteering at Washington Hospital during the American Civil War. Very graphic in places — as she describes the sudden influx of wounded, and many of their subsequent deaths. It’s a fictionalized account, meaning that she changed the names and added some humor, though (as I understand it) everything she saw as she cared for the men was true. There’s one patient (John) that brings me to tears (as she describes his suffering and his reaction to her, a nurse, while she comforted him through his death.)

    • Erin

      I hadn’t even heard of Hospital Sketches before, so thank you for sharing, Jillian! It sounds quite interesting and very different from the novels for which she’s best known.

  • http://www.ragingbibliomania.net/ zibilee

    This is ANOTHER classic that I haven’t read, though I do have two copies around here somewhere. I remember giving this book to my daughter and telling her that it was a must read a few years ago, but I never took my own advice! I am such a slacker sometimes. So glad you liked this one!

  • http://perduedansleslivres.blogspot.com virginie

    I read “Behind a Mask” a few years ago and still remembers it vividly. So different from “Little Women”. The story is about a very manipulative girl seeking social revenge. She had it all (beauty, intelligence) but money and power. Quite an interesting and gripping novel! May be you could give it a chance!

    • Erin

      Wow I’d not heard of Behind a Mask before…I’ve only heard of Alcott’s best known books (Little Women, Little Men, and the like). I’d definitely be interested in trying something like Behind a Mask. Thanks for the recommendation!

  • http://jennysbooks.wordpress.com Jenny

    I still think Laurie and Jo should have ended up together. They just needed to grow up a little, and then it would have been fine.

    Did you cry when Beth died? I can’t stand Beth and yet I always cry like a little girl when I get to that point in the book. And oh my God! That scene where poor Meg’s jelly won’t jell and everything is terrible and then her rotten rotten husband brings someone home for dinner without telling her and wants her to have dinner for him. So lame.

    • Erin

      Ha, you have a point. Though I kind of felt like once Laurie got stuck on Amy, he stopped growing. As for Beth, I did not cry. Maybe because I was listening, or because I expected it. Now I feel a bit heartless! I did giggle at the drama surrounding the jelly incident, and a couple of others like it.

  • http://yourmovedickens.blogspot.com/ Darlyn

    Your post makes me want to reread Little Women. I reread it when I twelve, and I don’t think I’ve ever gotten over the fact that Laurie and Jo didn’t end up together. :)

    • Erin

      I think a lot of people got stuck there :-)

  • http://theeclecticreader.wordpress.com/ carolinareads

    I also prefered part 1. Amy annoyed me a lot, and I felt that she didn’t quite grow up.

    • Erin

      Agreed. I think she annoyed me most of all the sisters, and I didn’t like that once she was with Laurie, he seemed to stop growing up, too.