Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I have to say I don't remember when I first read Little Women.
I remember not being sure of their ages, and that both Meg and Jo had to be old because they had jobs. I remember not getting references to things like the Pickwick Papers, but it didn't matter. I remember how real the relationship between the sisters was -- fights, making up, squabbles. I couldn't understand how they could both be poor and have a servant.
And since then, I've seen the various movies and TV series, and so now my memories are jumbled with those images.
So, of course, a reread was in order!
The first section -- the original stand alone -- was great. We are told their ages, I just didn't remember. And I liked the structure, just over a year in the lives of Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy.
And how great that Alcott shows 4 unique characters from the very first sentence each one speaks.
I also loved how imperfect they each are; and how they each have dreams and hopes. And that self-sufficiency is important; and work is good. And that emotions are OK.
And Jo's anger! And her mother admitting anger! But now my first "but." But. Anger is a tricky thing; that Jo's anger and stubbornness, however justified, resulted in Amy getting hurt. Marmee offers help, but of the "how to conquer it" school, and unfortunately, it's also tied into her husband. For the record, my dislike of Bronson Alcott has influenced my feelings towards Mr. March.
Quick aside: yes, Bronson was wonderful in many ways, and progressive, and an intellect. He also did not do enough to support his family, or to keep them well and fed.
Anyway. That Marmee's advice gets into "your father is perfect and without faults so he helped me fight my own" was quite the "ugh" moment.
On to part two: this one covered so many years, that it was a bit jarring and harder to follow how time passed, especially after how tightly constructed the first was. And this was also the one that veered the most from the Alcott's own story.
The good: Jo and Amy both continuing their art, each in their own way, and Jo and her publishing.
Meg's misadventures of keeping house. The interactions between everyone; how realistic the family continues to be.
The not so good, to me; in both books, the veering into lectures got a bit much. The age differences between Meg and John, and then Jo and Bhaer. That Bhaer is so much like Mr. March, in that he is there to "teach" Jo. There is some of that with Meg and John, but at least there John is show to have faults and it's more mutual change.
I also want to eventually read one of the annotated versions of this, because the details that made sense at the time but raise questions now --- Some, like the casual mention of a rat at Orchard House. Others I can kind of guess at, like pins and collars.
Overall? Still holds up, and recommended if you haven't read it before.
I remember Little Men being one of my favorites, so that will be read soon.