The Classics Club: Little Women

Little Women

If I’m honest I have wanted to read this book for far too long but just never got round to it, so when I composed my Classic’s Club list it had to go on it and it was clearly just the motivation I needed.

Little Women chronicles the struggles, tribulations, and joys of the four March sisters as they grow from children into women. First we have the eldest sister Meg who is beautiful, caring, and well-mannered. The second eldest is Jo the tomboy of the family who is loyal, creative, and fiercely independent. Next comes Beth who is gentle, shy, and musical sadly she is also a sickly creature. And last but not least we have Amy the youngest sister who is proper, ambitious, and loves art. Together they must fight against the stigma and reality of poverty as well as the constant fear of losing their father in the war. Personally they all have their own demons to fight; Meg is embarrassed about their poverty, Jo has a quick and violent temper, Beth is troubled by ill-health, and Amy can be very vain. When it comes down to it though they are never alone because their sisterly love is so strong, and together they are hopeful they can overcome anything.

I made slow but steady progress through Little Women. Not because it was difficult to read but because I found that it was a story that needed to be savoured which surprised me. I imagined that Little Women would be a sweet tale of four sisters coming of age together, and it was, but it was also so much more. On reading Little Women I found that is was very touching, thought-provoking, and also rather inspirational. I didn’t go into reading this book completely blind as I had (many years ago) watched the 1994 film adaptation. The film didn’t really prepare me as much as I thought it had though as the film is sweet but I wouldn’t say it was much more than that. It is the little details of the book that the film skipped that made it something special.

Of course the stars of Little Women are the four sisters Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. I found I like them all for very different reasons. I found Meg very sweet and good-natured, being the eldest she was the most grown of the group and didn’t seem to change as much. I found Jo both wonderful and infuriating in equal parts. Jo was definitely one of those that needed to change the most and I felt for her because she seemed to find it the hardest to change. I found Beth to be quite an angel and wouldn’t have changed her for the world! However I think overall my favourite sister was Amy. She did start out vain but early on she recognised her weakness and worked hard to remedy it, and her transformation I thought was the greatest for which I admired her. I loved getting to know all the sisters, their family, friends, and neighbours. It is the mix of individuals and the relationships they form that create the real plot of the novel.

Overall I thought that Little Women was an utterly charming novel. I highly recommend this novel to those who are also interested in working their way through the classics. I now feel I might seriously have to consider getting my hands on copies of the sequels Little Men and Jo’s Boys.

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35 thoughts on “The Classics Club: Little Women

  1. If you enjoy B&W films, the original of this one is also worth watching, in company with the more recent adaptation. Although, of course, the book is better…but so say the bookish in every instance. Glad to hear that you enjoyed this so much!

    1. Hello Sarah, thank you for stopping by and commenting. I can imagine the abridged version probably left out a lot of the extra detail which is what I enjoyed the most. I hope you enjoy this book too 🙂

  2. Read this earlier in the year after a gap many decades longer than I care to admit. I wish I hadn’t because it spoiled the pleasure of the first read. Now I found it slow and ponderous. Oh dear

    1. Hello Kheenand, thank you for stopping by and commenting 🙂

      It is so sad when you don’t enjoy a book as much on re-reading it! For that reason I often shy away from re-reads, except of well loved childhood favourites.

  3. I’ve read this twice but it’s been YEARS. I mostly remember it as a sweet story about sisters, but I wonder if I’d pick up on much more now.

    I think Jo is my favorite sister. I have NEVER forgiven Amy for burning Jo’s stories. I don’t care about Laurie, Jo didn’t want him anyway, but she burned her WRITING!

  4. It’s always fun to see someone reading Little Women for the first time and be completely charmed by it 🙂 Your post makes me think a reread is in order! I haven’t read any of the sequels so if you do read them, I hope you can recommend them.

    1. I could imagine this book would lose none of its charm from re-reads, if anything you would probably notice even more detail. If I get around to reading the sequels I hope I will be able to recommend them too 🙂

  5. This is on my TBR shelf along with Jo’s Boys and Little Men (yeah for library book sales!) and I think it just got bumped up in the queue. Unless I get distracted again. Which kind of happens a lot – lol. Thanks so much for sharing your review. 🙂

  6. This is one of my favorite books. I read it ever year around Christmastime and I can’t wait to have children so I can share the story with them year after year. Great review!

    1. Hello Nicole, thank you for stopping by and commenting. It is lovely to hear you read this every Christmas. I’ve really neglected my re-reading recently but would love to get back into it.

  7. This is one of my favorites! I am re-reading it and have the two sequels on my club list. 🙂 I like Jo and Beth the most, of the sisters. And Marmee, of course!

  8. Hello! Thanks for linking my review. I agree that this was a charming work, touching and inspirational. I definitely think young girls benefit from it. I also mine slowly and savored it (on my kindle). Also, most Little Women editions seem to combine Good Wives into it as well so it makes for a rather long YA novel. Will you read Little Men and Jo’s Boys too? I’ve decided not too, but I expect they will still be as nice. Happy reading!

    1. You’re very welcome Athena. I just had to share a link as we had such similar enjoyment from the book and being fellow classic clubbers, I thought I should share the love 🙂

      I don’t think I will rush out to get Little Men and Jo’s Boys mainly because I have so many other books of classic club list to get to first. But will consider them for the future.

  9. I’m always interested to see what non-Americans think of the books that are usually assigned reading for us at young ages! I sometimes wonder how I’d feel about Little Women if I’d first read it at our age now instead of having it read to me in elementary school.

    1. Ah yes Amanda I can imagine Little Women is a staple diet for children in the USA, while you were read this I was being read Tom’s Midnight Garden 🙂

      I think at the age your talking about elementary/primary school age I’m not sure I would appreciated this book as much as I do as an adult. This could be that I wouldn’t have so much knowledge of the history of another country at that younger age, especially of the USA. I also think not enough goes on for my child imagination to have connected with, while as an adult I appreciate loads of action doesn’t neccessarily make the best book.

      1. Yeah, the Civil War era was one of the big things discussed in elementary school (that and the Revolutionary War), so I had lots of background.

        As for the action need, what I mostly remember is Beth (?) falling through the ice and everyone being dramatically upset and concerned about it. (My brother also fell through the ice when I was in elementary school.)

        1. Amy the youngest falls through the ice, probably about the only scene of any real action but its pretty brief. Most of the drama seemed to come from Jo’s guilt over the matter. Was your brother okay? Amy seems to get over it pretty quickly but I’m no expert things like that aren’t common where I grew up winters aren’t harsh enough to freeze rivers.

          1. Amy! That’s it! Thanks. 🙂

            Yeah, he was ok. The real dangers from falling through ice are: 1) getting sucked by the current down so far that you can’t find the hole to get back out and drown 2) not being able to get back out because obviously the edge is slippery and thus getting hypothermia 3) getting out but getting hypothermia before you’re able to get someplace warm.

            Thankfully my brother was able to drag himself out and get back to our house. And then we all got yet another lecture on how to check the ice to see if it’s safe to walk on. 😛

  10. Don’t forget the sequel ‘Good Wives’. I know when I originally read ‘Little Women’ I was a bit shocked, having seen the film so many times, that they didn’t have the same ending (I know, shock, horror, a film adaptation that deviates from the novel), but then I discovered ‘Good Wives’ and all made sense!

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