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.