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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

When I was in the fifth grade my class held a contest to see who could read the most books in a set period of time (I don't remember if it were a 6 week period or the whole year or what.) For most of the time I ran second place to a girl named Candy. Candy and I had a little academic competition going all the way until 10th grade when I transferred to a boarding school. (She chose to stay behind and be top dog.) Anyway. I was pretty suspicious of the amount of reading Candy was doing, cause I knew how much I was reading and it seemed incredible that she was reading MORE than me. Then, for whatever reason, we both read Little Women at the same time. She finished it before me (of course) and I was so disappointed. Our teacher (Mrs. Joiner) had us both come to her desk to ask how we liked the book, etc. She turned to Candy and asked, "Who is Laurie?" and Candy (who LOVED the book) said, "The middle sister." And then everything was good again.

I hadn't read Little Women again since then, but remembered it fondly. I started getting it from DailyLit a few months ago and finally finished reading it last week. I'd love to say that it was a wonderful experience, that I loved the book every bit as much as when I was 10. I can certainly see how it would appeal to a lot of women and girls, but for myself not so much. I love Jo, as does everyone, and my favorite part was when she was falling for Prof. Bhaer and walking in the rain looking for him. I loved the scene where they admit their feelings, and for that matter, Laurie and Amy's young relationship. I liked Laurie's 6 month reaction to Jo's refusal. Everything else was just too preachy. The girls reading their little books about becoming a good person, and Beth's graceful death (except for Jo's reaction, which seemed the most honest), and Meg's little lessons in becoming the perfect wife, and Laurie and Amy's decision to help those less fortunate. And what's the deal with Jo suddenly wanting a houseful of boys at the end of the novel? That's not hinted at anywhere until suddenly it's her heart's desire.

I am glad that I read it again, but it's not a favorite. Well, except for that part where it totally revealed who was a liar liar pants on fire.

PS Who are the extra women in this picture? Marmie and Hannah?


  1. I never read it as a child, but I read it a couple of years ago (because it's one of those books that everyone is supposed to read, right?). I hated it. It was so goody-goody blah blah blah (kind of like watching an episode of Full House, but with less drama). And I thought if I had to read the word "Marmee" one more time, I would gouge my own eyes out.

  2. I'd rather watch Full House.

    The twins talking bothered me a lot too, but I already felt like I was complaining enough. "Marmar" is worse than Marmee, if possible.

  3. I could have written some of this post, Lisa. While I loved Little Women as a child, when I re-read it a couple years ago for a book group I found I no longer cared for it at all. It was a struggle to just get to the end of it. While many members of the group were still counting it as one of their all-time-favorite books, I was trying to figure out what on earth I saw in it before that made me like it so much as a child.

  4. Yipee!! I'm glad I am not the only one who shares these feelings. I know that I read it before, but can't remember how old I was. But re-reading it, I couldn't imagine how in the whole wide world it would have kept my interest as a young girl. And Jo and Baehr! Blah. :) I SO wanted Jo and Laurie to be together (perhaps because Christian Bale is so adorable as Laurie).

    And I loved your story about Candy!

  5. I posted on my blog some time ago about Madeleine Stern who discovered that Louisa May Alcott actually had a dark side, and wrote murder mysteries under a non-de-plume.

    Here's my post...

    Some of Alcott's books can be read on the Gutenberg Project.

  6. I followed this link from the Yahoo group. Oh boy, I have this book coming up next. Like you, I read it when I was a kid and loved it. I wanted to re-read it before I started on "March" by Geraldine Brooks, and I selected "Little Women" as part of the Something About Me Challenge. I went to the library to check out "Little Women," and was surprised at how thick it was...and in tiny print. HUH? How the heck did I pull that off in the 5th grade? I must have read an abridged version. Anyway, after reading these comments on Yahoo, I am thinking CRUD, I hope even like it. I'll let you know how it goes....

    (Sorry for the long message).

    Jill =)


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