πŸ“– Little Men by Louisa May Alcott β­β­

After quite a heavy first year (2018) into my new Classics Club list, with some long and/or difficult classics tackled, I thought I needed to go easier on myself this year by reading some more of the children’s classics I have on my list. And, first up, I decided to readΒ Little Men by Louisa May Alcott, the 1869 sequel to Alcott’s utterly charming Little Women.

Set several, unspecified years after the original, Little Men begins with the arrival of ‘Nat’ Blake – an orphaned street musician discovered by Mr Laurence in a cellar – to Jo and her husband’s school, which they have set up at Plumfield after inheriting the estate off Jo’s Aunt March. As one would imagine of Jo, it is an unconventional school, where children have their own gardens and pets; are encouraged to start their own businesses and follow their passions; and pillow fights are permitted on Saturdays, subject to a time limit, of course.

Through Nat’s eyes we are introduced to the other boys at the school, which includes: Jo’s sweet, innocent nephew ‘Demi’ Brooke; the well-meaning but troublesome ‘Tommy’ Bangs; the over-indulged ‘Stuffy’ Cole; the mentally challenged Billy Ward; and Mr Bhaer’s strapping nephews, Emil and Franz Hoffman. Later they are joined by ‘Nan’ Harding, a wild tomboy, brought in as a companion for Demi’s twin sister Daisy and Nat’s troubled, free-spirited friend ‘Dan’ Kean, who struggles to settle in.

Each and every one of them is welcomed to Plumfield withΒ warmth and affection, and is treated as an individual. However boys (and girls) have a habit of getting into scrapes, and so what follows is a charming series of troubles and adventures that the children get themselves into. I particularly enjoyed their berry picking trip, which ends with two children missing into the night; Daisy and Nan’s rather disastrous dinner party; the creation of their own natural history museum; and Dan’s terrible struggles and redemption. There is also the surprising and poignant death of a beloved character from Little Women.

If you weren’t a fan of the slow, steady pace or the moralistic tone of Little Women, then you won’t be a big fan of this either, as they are just replicated here. However if you loved the original and in particular loved the wilful tomboy Jo March in it, then you may still not love this because Jo has now grown-up into a sensible, caring mother of two small boys. There is no remnant of her former self really, except for the almost imperceptible twinkle in her eye when she deals with young Nan’s antics. This wasn’t really an issue for me though, as Jo wasn’t my favourite March sister, especially after she broke lovely Laurie’s heart.

So overall, I thought Little Men was a lovely, easy-going read, with a delightful collection of characters and adventures. Its only downfall – which is probably why it is unfairly overlooked – is that, well, it’s just not Little Women! I look forward to reading its sequel Jo’s Boys in the near future. Good read.

Have you read this? Have you read Little Women or Jo’s Boys?

This is book 7/50 for my Classics Club II reading challenge.

20 thoughts on “πŸ“– Little Men by Louisa May Alcott β­β­

  1. Phew, this is one I can safely leave off the wishlist based on your comment “If you weren’t a fan of the slow, steady pace or the moralistic tone of Little Women, then you won’t be a big fan of this either,…” i’m afraid while I enjoyed LW in my young days, reading it a few years ago was not anywhere as enjoyable….

  2. I never even knew this book existed. I must look out for a copy.
    And, there’s a new movie in the making or Little Women – thought you might like to know if you didn’t already do so.
    Lynn πŸ˜€

  3. This is also on my classics TBR list – put there because it is a comparatively easy read. Never did get around to it though.

  4. You are so right. No other book, even by Louisa May, can be Little Women! I can’t count how many times I read it as a child. But I did read this one and Jo’s Boys eventually. I think at the time I just figured that people grow up and change. I read in a biography of Alcott that she kept writing these books because she needed the income, though she did not think much of them herself. That biography by the way was wonderful: https://keepthewisdom.blogspot.com/2011/01/louisa-may-alcott-woman-behind-little.html

  5. I loved this one as a child – it was next favourite to Little Women. Ha! When, many decades later, I found myself unexpectedly working in a school for boys with behavioural difficulties, I often thought of this and wished my boys’ problems were as easily sorted with a kind word! I’m guessing modern boys might defeat even Jo’s best endeavours from time to time… πŸ˜‰

    1. HAHA FF, as I currently work with mainly boys with behavioural difficulties, I know exactly what you mean! Although I do know Jo’s ideas of doing practical, hands on things outside is something we do too. πŸ˜€

  6. It’s been almost 50 years (!!) since I read Little Women 😱 and don’t remember much about it. I still have my copy, so I guess I could read it again, or at least skim through parts. I never read Jo’s Boys or Little Men. At the time I read Little Women, I was more enthralled with Nancy Drew mysteries.

  7. I read this as a child, and Jo’s Boys as well, but I can’t really remember anything about them except that I didn’t love them the way I loved Little Women. I would like to re-read the whole series as an adult to see what I think of them now.

    1. Helen, I hope you are able to give these books a re-read. I think ‘I didn’t love them the way I loved Little Women‘ pretty much sums up what I felt about this book too, but it was still an easy, charming read. πŸ™‚

  8. I never did read this one. A few years ago I re-read Little Women and loved it, despite the preachy tone, which could get annoying. I got quite good at ignoring that moralistic stuff, but I think you need to be prepared for it.

    1. Ali, I am really pleased you loved your re-read of Little Women. Personally I love the moralistic tone and didn’t find it preachy, but I do know other readers do – The children’s classic I did find preachy was The Water Babies!

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