Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy are sisters, living with their mother Marmee as their father is off fighting in the war. Their lives are spent working or studying and trying to help the even poorer people in the neighborhood. In their sparetime, they like to play creatively. When their neighbor Mr. Lawrence’s grandson Laurie moves in with his grandfather, he quickly finds himself included with the girls. Together, they navigate life’s ups and downs.
I’ve been meaning to read Little Women quite literally for decades and I’m so glad I finally did. It’s a great read that celebrates the everyday life of (still rather privileged) women at the time. I was really impressed, despite expecting a lot because I love the (1994) film.
I am aware that Little Women was not necessarily Alcott’s passion project and I felt that especially in the first part where it took a while for her to get away from the sweetly, moralizing tone that was obviously expected in literature for girls. But once she gets in the groove of writing it, it’s awesome. I got the distinct impression that she liked writing the second part more than the first – I certainly enjoyed reading it more.
But in any case, I was completely involved in the story and emotionally engaged at all points – despite knowing what would happen from the movie version. It has been a while that I saw the movie version though, and I think that as a teen, I was convinced that Jo and Laurie were supposed to be together. My perspective has shifted since then and I was worried that the book would still evoke that regret in me. But really, it’s perfect that they don’t end up together. Laurie has to deal with the rejection and gets his for turning into a Nice Guy(TM) for a second there. Nice Guys(TM) should read Little Women and learn from him. And that ending makes clear that their love and relationship isn’t any less just because it isn’t romantic. Plus, Laurie and Amy are really, really cute together. As are Jo and Bhaer.
At the same time, it is obvious to me that Jo is actually transmasc and aro (even if those concepts weren’t really around at the time) – and I do wish that we would have gotten that story as well. Even though I think that Alcott found a good solution to give Jo a strong (in a quiet way) romance in the end as was obligatory at the time. But now we really need a modernized version where Jo gets to be trans and aro, I think.
In any case, it’s a novel that is often incredibly insightful (especially in the second half) and funny, but also sad and touching. It proves that you don’t need grand, heroic stories and deeds to get to the great emotions: Life happens at home.
Summarizing: Loved it.