Thank you to Jill at Fizzy Thoughts for offering up a read-a-long of the classic, Little Women. While I read this in High School, and once I believe about 4 or 5 years back, I tried my hand at the audio version narrated by Kate Reading (AWESOME!).
SO I am going to believe that most of you have read Little Women at some point in your life and for those of you who have not I am also going to believe you at least know what the story is about…. either way, I am going to give you a little synopsis, Sheila style:
It is the mid 1800’s and the 4 March sisters (thus the March read along… so clever!) Meg the oldest, Josephine “Jo”, tomboy just as tomboy was considered cool for girls, Beth – quiet and reserved, and the youngest Amy – beautiful and a little snooty; all live with their mother “Marmee” and Hannah the servant. “Pa” March is absent for much the first part of the book as he is a chaplain in the war, so Marmee runs the household and the girls.
The girls shortly after the book opening meet their neighbor Theodore “Laurie” Lawrence who is between the two older girls ages. He becomes fast friends with all of them especially Jo as she is like having another boy to run and have adventures with.
The book goes on to share each girls stories of growing up and their trial and errors along the way. Meg is humble, but admits to wishing she had lovelier things – later she becomes a disgruntled wife for a time due to… hmmmm…. over protectiveness perhaps growing up? Jo, who really is the main protagonist seems to struggle the most with her own identity – finding herself frequently in trouble for her blunt mouth, her constant mess of clothes as she can not keep anything clean and her desire to write or not write… or write…. as the book goes on. Beth is sadly in poor health most of the book and may go down as the longest death scene at least in my bookish history (more on that later) and you really never get to know her as she is such a quiet mouse in the corner of the book. Amy is in my opinion snooty (until much later in life) and feels herself beyond an impoverish life always wanting nice things for herself and wanting to be socially above her current class.
My silly thoughts along the way. First off – the audio was a fantastic way to go on this one. Kate Reading (narrator) really did make it enjoyable and a new way to experience the book. I am not sure I will ever feel the need to read this one again, but I am happy to say I have read it and listened to it now.
I have always said it is kind of fun to pick on classics. In most cases they are so different then the way we live in today’s society while we can appreciate them…. we could not (I could not) live that kind of life.
Marmee is both wise and overbearing. Her life lessons to the girls which I am sure at the time spoke to the young ladies who read the book back in the day, caused me to eye roll more than once. Ever patient, ever kind – just once I wanted Mrs. March to let her hair down and really give the girls what for….
“Meg, quit whimpering in that exhausting way as you sit on your butt all day!”
“Jo, seriously think before you speak and start thinking of a future that does not involve spinsterhood and living with your parents until you die… or we die… or the world implodes.”
“Beth…ok, I can’t yell at you because you are sick but girl, what has happened that you can never pull out of this illness?”
“And Amy, pull the stick out of your butt and quit acting like you are so much better than what we can give. You pompous brat do you not see that you have a family who loves you, relatives who dote on you and I am guessing a good deal more than many other girls your age. Also – burning Jo’s book? I could send away for someone to spank you for that if I am too weak to do it myself.”
Whew that felt good. Beth’s death scene that started with scarlet fever at the age of 14 and continues as she never quite gets her hearth back and eventually succumbs at the age of 19. FIVE YEARS. The girl is sick for FIVE YEARS. It drug on and on.
Jo I have to say was a brilliant character for the time and I love that people for the most part have found her to be the favorite of the March sisters even though she was by no means the prettiest or the most successful. This pleases me because I love strong women characters and Jo seems to be a character ahead of her time, not feeling she needs a man to make her whole and until much later in the book, content to be on her own. Of all the characters Jo is said to be the character that Louisa May Alcott had written as her self and the others as her three sisters, and you see that again in the book The Lost Summer of Louise May Alcott (fiction) which I has just read earlier this year.
I admit I was happy to see that the initial publishing of Little Women was broke later into two books: Little Women and Good Wives as I felt the story did go on to long…. I have never read Little Men (1871) or Jo’s Boys (1886) but I am am not ruling out that I someday might.
Overall – kudos to Louisa May Alcott who wrote a book almost a century and a half ago that told of a strong independent woman in a very Christian like setting. I like that Marmee did not try to change go into more of a lady as I would suspect would be the “thing to do” at the time.
The book is truly a brilliant read and I highly suggest that each of you take the time if you have not already to read it in your lifetime.
Thank you to Jill at Fizzy Thoughts as I believe this was her brain child to do this read a long and if not for that push, I doubt if I would have ever picked up the book again.
I will be adding this as part of the weekly meme, Sound Bytes at Devourer of Books