Little Women (Little Women #1) by Louisa May Alcott

10 Jun

Little Women (Little Women #1)
by Louisa May Alcott

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Little Women (Bantam Classics)
Little Women is one of the best loved books of all time. Lovely Meg, talented Jo, frail Beth, spoiled Amy: these are hard lessons of poverty and of growing up in New England during the Civil War.
Through their dreams, plays, pranks, letters, illnesses, and courtships, women of all ages have become a part of this remarkable family and have felt the deep sadness when Meg leaves the circle of sisters to be married at the end of Part I. Part II, chronicles Meg’s joys and mishaps as a young wife and mother, Jo’s struggle to become a writer, Beth’s tragedy, and Amy’s artistic pursuits and unexpected romance.
Based on Louise May Alcott’s childhood, this lively portrait of nineteenth-century family life possesses a lasting vitality that has endeared it to generations of readers.
This book is a classic, and although it may not relate to current sociological issues, I think it is a beautiful coming of age story that tells the story of the March family. Through their mother, Marmee, they are taught about kindness, charity, good deeds and the importance of family and friends, as they grow older they enrich their lives with love and growth in lieu of wealth.
Now is the part where I insert my lazy plot summary of the novel…“Alcott prefaces Little Women with an excerpt from John Bunyan’s seventeenth-century work The Pilgrim’s Progress, an allegorical novel about leading a Christian life. Alcott’s story begins with the four March girls—Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy—sitting in their living room, lamenting their poverty. The girls decide that they will each buy themselves a present in order to brighten their Christmas. However, they change their minds and decide that instead of buying presents for themselves, they will buy presents for their mother, Marmee. Marmee comes home with a letter from Mr. March, the girls’ father, who is serving as a Union chaplain in the Civil War. The letter inspires the girls to bear their burdens more cheerfully and not to complain about their poverty.
On Christmas morning, the girls wake up to find books, probably copies of The Pilgrim’s Progress, under their pillows. Later that day, Marmee encourages them to give away their breakfast to a poor family. Their elderly neighbor, Mr. Laurence, whom the girls have never met, rewards their charitable activities by sending over a feast.  Meg and Jo are invited to attend a New Year’s Party at the home of Meg’s wealthy friend, Sally Gardiner. At the party, Jo retreats to an alcove, and there meets Laurie, the boy who lives with Mr. Laurence. While dancing, Meg sprains her ankle. Laurie escorts the sisters home. The Marches regret having to return to their daily routine after the holiday festivities.
Jo visits Laurie when he is sick, and meets his grandfather, Mr. Laurence. She inadvertently insults a painting of Mr. Laurence in front of the man himself. Luckily, Laurie’s grandfather admires Jo’s spunk, and they become friends. Soon, Mr. Laurence meets all the sisters, and Beth becomes his special favorite. Mr. Laurence gives her his deceased granddaughter’s piano.
The girls have various adventures. Amy is caught trading limes at school, and the teacher hits her as punishment. As a result, Mrs. March withdraws her daughter from school. Jo refuses to let Amy go with her to the theater. In result, Amy burns Jo’s manuscript, and Jo, in her anger, nearly lets Amy drown while ice-s-kating. Pretty Meg attends her friend Annie Moffat’s party and, after allowing the other girls to dress her up in high style, learns that appearances are not everything. While at the party, she hears that people think she intends to marry Laurie for his money.
That year, the Marches form the Pickwick Club, in which they write a family newspaper. In the spring, Jo smuggles Laurie into one of the club meetings, and he becomes a member, presenting his new circle with a postbox. At the beginning of June, the Marches decide to neglect their housework. At the end of a lazy week, Marmee takes a day off too. The girls spoil a dinner, but everyone ends up laughing over it. One day, Laurie has English friends over, and the Marches go on a picnic with them. Later, Jo gets a story published for the first time.
One dark day, the family receives a telegram saying that Mr. March is sick in the hospital in Washington, D.C. Marmee goes to tend to him, and Jo sells her hair to help finance the trip. Chaos ensues in Marmee’s wake, for the girls neglect their chores again. Only Beth goes to visit the Hummels, and after one of her visits, she contracts scarlet fever from the Hummel baby. Beth teeters on the brink of death until Marmee returns.  Amy spends time at Aunt March’s house in order to escape the disease. Beth recovers, though not completely, and Mr. Brooke, Laurie’s tutor, falls in love with Meg, much to Jo’s dismay. Mr. Brooke and Meg are engaged by the end of Part One.
Three years pass before Part Two begins. Mr. March is home from the war, and Laurie is nearly done with school. Meg marries and moves into a new home with Mr. Brooke. One day, Amy has a lunch for her art school classmates, but poor weather ruins the festivities. Jo gets a novel published, but she must cut it down in order to please her publishers. Meg struggles with the duties of keeping house, and  gives birth to twins, Demi and Daisy. Amy goes to Paris.
Jo begins to think that Beth loves Laurie. In order to escape Laurie’s affections for her, Jo moves to New York so as to give Beth a chance to win his affections. There Jo meets Professor Bhaer, a poor German language instructor. Professor Bhaer discourages Jo from writing sensationalist stories, and she takes his advice and finds a simpler writing style. When Jo returns home, Laurie proposes, but she turns him down. Beth dies.
Amy and Laurie reunite in France, and they fall in love, marry and return home. Jo begins to hope that Professor Bhaer will come for her. He does, and they marry a year later. Amy and Laurie have a daughter named Beth. Jo inherits Plumfield, Aunt March’s house, and decides to turn it into a boarding school for boys. The novel ends with the family happily gathered together, each sister thankful for her blessings and for each other.”
No matter how many times I read this book, I take something away from it. It may remind me to be kind to others, involve myself with good deeds, even something simple as calling my sister (or other family members) to catch up and reminisce. Jo was my favorite character in the book, as she was bold, strong willed and opinionated. I loved how she challenged the society around her, loved her family, and had passion for her life and writing.
As always this book isn’t going to be for everyone, there is a lot of religious/faith based themes and ideology in the novel, and in modern times it could be considered sexist (women’s roles, genteel society etc) but considering when it was written, it is something you can either take or leave. If you are able to look past those things you will find a heart warming and timeless story that can be read over and over again.
Happy Reading!
-Ana @SoManyBooksSoLittleTime



Tags: , , , , , , ,

Please Feel Free to Leave a Reply, we would love to hear what you think!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: