Thursday, April 10, 2008

Little Women, the review

I finally finished reading my 1903 copy of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. It took a while, reading only one chapter a night before going to sleep, but I am thrilled to say it was worth it.

This was truly my favorite book growing up. I couldn't even guess how many times I read it. At one point, I was even inspired to sew clothes for my Holly Hobbie doll, which didn't work out nearly as well for me as it seemed to in the book.

I love the characters, I love their silly little adventures. I still prefer the first part of the book to the second, probably because of its wonderful intimacy. The first part is an in-depth portrait of a year (or so) in the lives of Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy, who are growing up together in a tightly knit family. In the second part, the unit is fragmented - Meg is married, Amy is in Europe, Laurie is in college and then heads abroad as well, and only Beth and Jo are at home. Part First is a tale of a family of four sisters; Part Second is really four distinct, though closely intertwined, stories of individual women.

As for the moralistic sections of the book... well, I must have glossed over in all of my many prior readings, because I didn't even recall most of them. The one that cracked me up this time, though, was Alcott's several page diatribe about how you shouldn't laugh at old spinster aunts, even if they *are* 25 or 30 years old, because despite all appearances to the contrary they do still have something to contribute to society. Amen, sister!

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