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Hot Book Discussions > Little Women: timeless classic

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Jo (BloominChick) | 2989 comments Great topic Brenda! I'm bustling about this morning but I'll be back to post some responses to your questions later.


Jess Michaelangelo | 197 comments Oh, I loved Little Women! I feel like it has a wide appeal for many reasons. First of all, it's a pretty cozy read. I remember the last time I read it, I was curled up under a comfy blanket with a big cut of hot cocoa. I also think that her writing stands the test of time. So many people avoid the classics because of "stuffy" (or at least many say so) writing, but Alcott's style is simple and easy to read and get hooked to. Additionally, with creating this cast of characters, I feel like girls/women can relate to at least one of the March girls in some way, since they have such a wide range of characteristics.

I think Alcott would have been proud of how loved this book is among those of her gender, as well as the fact that she was getting so many people to simply read.

I've never seen any of the movie renditions, but I'd probably be partial to the newer one with Wynona Ryder. I'll have to look it up! I don't have a favorite part of the book, exactly, but I do love Jo dearly. I think out of all of the girls, I identify with her the most. Amy never really impressed me all that much, so she'd probably be my least favorite.

These are great questions to ponder, Brenda! Thanks for getting my mind working this morning! :)


ReneeB I loved this book. I thought each of the girls offered up something special. But Jo was my favorite. I loved when she cut her hair off. She just had a big heart.

I saw two of the movies, Winona Ryder & Katherine Hepburn. But I liked Winona's better. I loved Susan Sarandon as the mother.

I just think it's timeless. One of my favorites.


message 4: by Melissa (last edited May 31, 2010 09:32PM) (new)

Melissa (lissieb7) | 532 comments Little Women is my favorite book! I first read it in the fifth grade and have read it many times since. My favorite character by far is Josephine March. I identify with her love of the written word, and her struggle with her temper. She was the tomboy, at least not a girly girl like Meg. I've become a little more girly as I've aged, but have always had those tomboyish tendencies. There are at least three movie versions. I own them all. There is one in which Katherine Hepburn plays Jo and one starring June Allyson as Jo as well as Elizabeth Taylor as Amy, Margaret O'Brien as Beth, and Janet Leigh as Meg. Finally, the newest version starring Wynona Ryder as Jo. My favorite of these is the June Allyson version. It is in Technicolor and fleshes out the story quite well. As for my favorite scene, well that is difficult. I love when Jo cuts her hair. I also loved the beginning when they were practicing the Christmas play and when they took all their presents back to the store and got presents for Marmee. I love at the end when professor Bhaer comes back asks Jo if there's a place for him, while pointing to her poem about the hope chests, and standing in the rain under an umbrella. There are just so many wonderful scenes in this book. It is hard to choose. I think Louisa May Alcott would have been happy to know that her words have touched so many lives and hearts and made such a difference to so many people.


Jayme(the ghost reader) (JaymeILtheghostreader) | 4158 comments I love Little Women and my favorite character has always been Jo. I like Beth second. I cried when Beth died. My favorite movie version is with Christian Bale as Laurie and Wynona Ryder as Jo.


Tiffany | 92 comments I also love Little Women and it is truly my favorite book. I think my mother really stated the reason why very nicely. When I would run out of books to read and start complaining, she would tell me to read Little Women. If I said that I had already read it, she would say "read it again. It is different when you are 12, 13, 14..." The copy we had in the house was my granny's book. It is an illustrated edition from 1919. My niece had it for awhile, but I told her it was mine and found another copy after my other grandmother's passed. It was a newer edition, but also illustrated.

It is available as an e-text in several different formats at http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/514. Reading my 1919 edition is a little tricky with a touchy two year old running around.


Monica (Imelda85) | 458 comments I adore Little Women. It's a story of love and family that I have always been able go back to as a source of comfort during so many difficult times of my life. It has such appeal because it has been enjoyed by readers of all ages. I first read Little Women when I was 10 or 11 years old, and fell in love with the characters. I love Jo and Marmee and Beth. I have enjoyed all of the movie versions, each one had it's special moments. Elizabeth Taylor portraying Amy was an intersting choice, I loved her in that role! What an amazing cast in that film version! Katharine Hepburn made a great Jo, but I do believe that I loved Winona Ryder the best! I also thought that the music in the most recent film version was simply incredible. Music can really make a movie memorable and beautiful.


Peanut | 149 comments What is the appeal of the book for so many girls and women? Don't know the appeal besides just being a good story.I read it post movie viewing. I never read it as a kid but finally picked it up when I was in Spain (the classics were the cheapest books to buy)

Have you a favorite movie version? - the one with Winona Ryder (SP?)


Who is your favorite character? Jo - she's so spunky

Your least favorite character? I don't think I have one.


ReneeB I'd love to see a new version. I'd watch it again. It's like Pride & Prejudice to me, I'd watch them all.


AngieA (angelwings55) | 213 comments I read LW every year as a matter of course. To me, it is one of America's greatest novels. I gain something from it each time I read it.

I actually like all the girls well enough, but of course, Jo is my favorite, as she is meant to be. The reason I like them all is because the characterizations are so perfect. Since LMA drew them from life, they were completely genuine. I think this is the lure of the story to so many generations.

I have a (bad?) habit of asking every girl over age 10 if she has read LW. I always heartily recommend it. I am a little shocked when adult women admit they have not read it. I let them know they are missing out and owe it to themselves to read it.

I believe LMA knew during her life how far reaching this book was going to be. All of her family novels had great success. You can see a little how her life went after fame in scenes from Jo's Boys as she decribes what Jo went through from fans. She already had multiple generations reading her work; there was not reason to believe that would wane.


AngieA (angelwings55) | 213 comments PartII-sorry, I got interrupted and wasn't finished! :)

There have been many film versions of LW. I own several of them including 1933 version with Katherine Hepburn as Jo and Spring Byington as Marmee. This is my favorite.

The 1949 version with June Allyson as Jo, Elizabeth Taylor as Amy, Margaret O'Brien as Beth, portrayed as younger than Amy, and Janet Leigh as Meg. Peter Lawford as Laurie. This one takes some liberties with the book.

The 1979 version with Susan Dey as Jo, Meredith Baxter as Meg and Eve Plump (the Brady Bunch)as Amy. William Shatner as Fritz! Not a bad film and, if I remember right, fairly true to the book.

2001 version is Ryder and Sarandon with Christian Bale as Laurie. Very good as well. There was a discussion thread on Good Reads awhile back about this, but search was unavailable, so I couldn't refer back to it.

According to Wikipedia under "Little Women" there have been around 13 films made from 1917 to 2001. It may be a more popular film subject than "Pride and Prejudice" or even "Oliver Twist"!

I find it interesting that the female characters are more fully developed and fleshed out than the men. John, Mr. March and Fritz are essential but we are not really privy to all they are thinking, where with the women, we usually are. I feel like I just know them better. But then, that's often true in life, as well. This is a great American classic and Alcott rates with Twain as the great American novelist, IMO.

Thanks, Brenda, for starting this discussion!


AngieA (angelwings55) | 213 comments Brenda wrote: Hands down LMA beat Twain!


LOL, well one has to be sensitive to the teachers of English who tout Twain as the Great American Author!



message 13: by Jo (last edited Jun 07, 2010 07:02AM) (new)

Jo (BloominChick) | 2989 comments The appeal of Little Women for me now isn't just that Jo was the first "person" to inspire me to write, but being brought back to a time when things were more simple in a materialistic sense (ie no cars, computers, cell phones and so on) and while life certainly wasn't easier, in many ways it's a time period I feel at home in when reading about it. Its' stories and characters are also ones you feel immediately a part of while reading. I think it's broad appeal has a lot to do with Jo March, her strength and her clearly so different than most girls and women of her time (as was Louisa May!). I think Louisa would be proud of it mostly for that fact but after watching Louisa May Alcott "The Woman Behind Little Women" recently ( http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmaste... ) she was irritated, even angry that the readers of the time wanted Jo married and married to Laurie, which she refused to write but did concede to marrying her to the Professor. Perhaps by now she's gotten over all of that and can look down upon her novel and just be proud of her accomplishment with it because it's so dear to us all! I have the original movie version with Katherine Hepburn, the one with Elizabeth Taylor and the one with Winona Ryder - the one with Elizabeth Taylor is my favorite followed by the one with Katherine Hepburn. What originally introduced me to Jo was an old weekly tv series on PBS (most likely the BBC series which could be this one: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0168962/ ) in the early to mid 1980's which aired every Sunday late morning and early afternoon (and then vanished!). I found the book at the school book fair in 6th grade and I still have that old well loved copy which floats between my nightstand and writing desk.


Jane (RougeAllure) | 38 comments I love Little Women! It's such a classic lovely story, I think my favourite character is Jo as well although I also have a fondness for Amy. I only ever saw the film with Winona Ryder but I liked it-the guy from it who Jo ends up with was pretty good looking too...


Mirza (mirzaarhasan) | 222 comments I also loved jo ... she seems a much more 'real' person than aany other classic heroines. you can really relate to her...
I saw three (or, maybe two) versions of Little Women movies and I loved the Winona Ryder version best too. She really looked her character.


message 16: by Jo (new)

Jo (BloominChick) | 2989 comments Jane, that was Gabriel Byrne and I agree! He's quite handsome :-)


Saritha Riju (sarithariju) | 1 comments Little women was one of my favourite books when i was in school,right after pride and prejudice. i manage to read it at least once every year and still enjoy it in all its freshness.

btw, i did see that some of us have mentioned that the little women movie with ryder came in 2001,but wikipedia says 1994... wonder how thats so?


message 18: by Jo (new)

Jo (BloominChick) | 2989 comments The Little Women dvd w/Wynona Ryder I have says it was released in 1994.


Mirza (mirzaarhasan) | 222 comments Jo wrote: "Jane, that was Gabriel Byrne and I agree! He's quite handsome :-)"

I absolutely loved that guy ... he was so oldish and so sweet and very very poor and all frail and caring. I loved him in the last scene, where he said,
" My hands are empty. "
And then Jo takes his hand and says,
" Not empty now. "
Though this scene wasn't in the book, it was SOOO romantic !!


Regine What is the appeal of Little Women? There are so many reasons. First of all, Alcott creates truly relatable characters. Most women could probably identify with at least one of the March sisters. Jo is witty and independent, Meg is kind but trapped by her era's convention, Beth is mild and meek, and Amy is a vain romantic. I think that I'm a little bit of a Jo, and a little bit of an Amy. Let's not also forget Marmee-- a brave woman who had to raise four children by herself while her husband was away-- how many mothers can relate to that? How many daughters can identify with growing up, or just constantly having one parent around?

Second of all, what Brenda said: timelessness. The book is about family dynamics, it's about coping with loss, finding love; it's about a woman trying to make it in a man's world. Although set in a different time era, there are still so many issues that so many women have to deal with in modern life. That's another reason for its appeal.

I could write an essay but I won't! My favorite character, obviously is Jo. I didn't have a least favorite, if i had to choose... the male characters weren't as well developed as the females. But they all played their part.

Favorite movie version is the Wynona Ryder... Although I loved both Kirsten Dunst and Elizabeth Taylor as Amy.


Mirza (mirzaarhasan) | 222 comments Awesome review, Regine. You couldn't have said it any better.

The one great thing about Little Women, as Regine pointed, are the four sisters; so different from each other yet everyone can relate to at least one of them ... It's always like, "Hey !! That's so like me !!" and sometimes we can even relate it with our sister (those of us who have sisterss can understand) ... the fights, the meaningless jealousy.

And the family environment described are so familier, we have all gone through some of it on one of our holidays - with our families all around, delicious food on the table ... and small children running around the fireplace.


Melissa (lissieb7) | 532 comments Brenda wrote: "Regine, great comments. It really is a terrific book when you analyze, and the movie versions are unforgettable.

You should all read The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott. It reminded me of Littl..."


I found The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott at Books-A-Million tonight. They are having a sale right now. I got my hardcover copy for only $6 and can't wait to read it. It is definitely at the top of my reading list.


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