Annalisa's Reviews > Little Women

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
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May 28, 08

bookshelves: book-club, classics, movies, didn-t-finish
Recommended for: teenagers: read this instead of Twilight
Read in May, 2008

I'm definitely a victim of modern society when I find this book slow. Had I read it in its day (or even as a youth) it would probably be fantastic, but as it is I'm finding the life lessons saturated in every chapter a little much, not sweet. Which brings me to Beth. Back in the day sweet, mild, submissive were prime female qualities. Now I look at the picture of her on the front cover with her empty eyes and blank stares and she looks sweet in a mentally challenged way. And Jo who is endearing because she is quirky, clumsy, and bold while meaning well and therefore not prime marriage material show prime female qualities for today of intelligence, wit, and assertiveness. So you see, the characteristics that are supposed to endear me annoy me and the ones I'm supposed to find sympathy for, I relate to.

I couldn't finish the book. I tried, but it was too much like homework. Plus it bothers me that (view spoiler). So I didn't even have motivation to wade through boredom to read a conclusion that upset me.
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Comments (showing 1-12 of 12) (12 new)

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Sarah I couldn't agree more with your assessment of the Amy/Laurie storyline. I found it was mainly for the convienence of pairing Laurie up with a March sister, despite the fact that he was terribly in love with Jo still. Amy's shallowness and somewhat arrogant nature wouldn't have won over Laurie in the end. She caught him on the rebound.


Sarah Law That is so true. Every single sentence in this book seems to be trying to teach you one of life's many lessons. It is sickly sweet


Olivia I agree that Laurie and Amy were a silly match. Amy suddenly and inexplicably obtains substance and Laurie realizes she's right for him. What? However, as much as I hate that match, I do not think Jo and Laurie were right for each other. I was heartbroken when she rejected him, but had to accept her decision. Besides, Laurie acted like an idiot after Jo's rejection. Jo deserves better, and as a sensible, independent woman, was right not to marry him out of pity.


Annalisa You're probably right. It's just that Laurie and Amy were such a weird match and for so long you expect Jo and Laurie to end up together that it just makes it worse.


Beth I'm not sure you're supposed to feel sorry for Jo - are you? I mean, not more so than you'd feel sorry for any complex character that has actual problems and frustrations in her life. I completely feel the heartbreak of Jo rejecting Laurie, but I think we've also been conditioned in our romantic comedy movies galore world to expect that they'd end up together. So it's incredibly frustrating to us that they don't, but I think, therefore great in an unexpected way from a book in this era. If this was a Jane Austen novel, they would be hitched and the story would end there, but I think Alcott's classic is such a classic because she defied that symplistic ending, tempting though it really is.

And I also think, not to be too argumentative, that Amy is often too easily written off as bratty or snobby, but how is she less likable for it? Like Jo has a temper and flaws yet we love her for it, I also love Amy for hers. Most of the time we spend getting to know Amy is when she's a little girl, so clearly more likely to be a little snotty and shallow sometimes, as children tend to be. I just think Amy gets a bad rap. She grows up in the novel, that's how she "obtains substance". And Laurie recognizes that, especially in that she's not afraid to tell it straight to him that he's become kind of a loser when they first meet up again. The pluck she shows in that instance reminds me of her older sister's, which is one thing I'm sure Laurie loved in Amy. But Jo also tells Laurie as she's rejecting him that he needs someone more elegant and refined, and Jo knows him better than anyone else. She knew what he needed, and he needed someone like Amy.

As to Beth, she is based on Louisa May's sister Elizabeth, who died young as well. She was sickly and super shy and very quiet and very kind. So of course she would come off as somewhat ideal. But as I know that the character was created as a loving salute to a real person who was loved that much, I can't really find fault with any aspect of her character.

I hope some of you give it another chance some day!


message 6: by Annalisa (last edited Dec 09, 2009 12:46PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Annalisa Beth,
My first reaction when I saw a comment from Beth was to think I had a comment from Beth in the story :). I think my disdain for Amy doesn't show a flaw in her as much as one in myself. I just can't handle people like her and show very little tolerance for it in literature, movies, pop culture. She is a complex, well-developed character, but I still reserve the right to dislike her :). I don't feel sorry for Jo. What I was trying to say is her awkwardness is supposed to endear her to you because it's flawed instead of in my mind perfect. Once again I'm showing my own short comings. As far as Beth goes, the fact that she's a tribute to someone makes her seem even less undeveloped and Mary Sue-ish to me. But this book really is a classic and they story has stood the test of time. I just wish I'd read it as a teenager when I would have been more fascinated it, not as annoyed by Amy and or Beth, and more willing to eat up the sweet life lessons. Maybe when my daughter is a teenager I'll read it with her and love it through her eyes. Thanks for comments.


Beth Haha, I didn't even think about my name appearing! And I'm not gonna lie, as a child growing up with this story, I'm sure my being pretty shy and encountering a character like Beth March to share a name with did lots to endear her to me.

And it did take me time to warm up to Amy. As a teenager I certainly didn't like her because I couldn't get past the Jo/Laurie thing. Your right to dislike her is fully appreciated!

But at least everyone can agree on Jo, right? I do see now what you meant about her. She's such a great character.

Really, I think my own personal love for this novel comes from seeing a tiny aspect of myself and my own sisters in each of the girls. And probably some of my brothers in Laurie. Meg is sort of that ideal side of you, that well-behaved and ladylike version. Beth is the very sweetest, gentlest aspect. Amy as a little girl burning Jo's manuscript, that's those memories I shudder over from the times I was an inconsolable brat; and Jo has the gumption and spirit and inspiration that we all sort of wish for, 'flaws' and all.


Hayley I don't care that you didn't like it, but I have to disagree with you saying that you would have enjoyed it more in your youth. That is the exact opposite of my feelings. I tried reading it when I was a teen, and I couldn't get through it. As I have matured, I find that my tastes have as well. I enjoy this book much more than I did in High School.


Annalisa Hayley,
That's good to know. I plan on giving it another shot when my daughter is old enough for us to read it together. We'll see how I feel then. And while I didn't exactly like it, I can appreciate it.


Jason Your review is harsh, but fair. It's eerily similar to mine on at least 5 points.

I think sometimes these 'classics' are considered classics by generations several times removed from us, and then it sticks forever. No. Disagree. As our kids and grandkids grow up, Little Women will decrease in literary value.


Priya totally agree with the amy-laurie thing. Laurie and Jo seemed perfect for each other. Slow book. Not a timeless classic for sure.


Megan I know this thread is old but I just finished the book and couldn't help but comment. I definitely agree that at times the book is overly sweet and sometimes preachy. As many other reviewers here mention, a lot of this is attributed to the time she was writing (and the expectations of publishers), but it's worth getting through despite this. I think you'll find that many of the characters change as they grow older. I also liked that, even though there are unrealistic aspects of the book (the sisters are mostly so perfectly sweet!), there are lot of realistic disappointments. Everyone knows things don't always turn out the way we went them too. Jo doesn't love Laurie, but she wishes that she could because wouldn't that be easier. Meg struggles with a longing for wealth despite the fact she has a husband she truly loves. Good people die. The ending is ultimately happy, but only with sacrifice and work from the characters. I won't harp any more because it seems like you're resolute to read it eventually and I do think you'll find things you like in it!


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