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message 1: by Dini, the master of meaning (new)

Dini | 691 comments Mod
Has anybody started on Little Women? I'm about halfway through the book. I seem to find a little bit of myself in each of the sisters. But do I wish I had a Laurie next door growing up!


message 2: by Dottie (last edited Dec 03, 2008 09:40AM) (new)

Dottie  (oxymoronid) | 698 comments I'm well along in Part Two, Dini, and really looking forward to the discussion with this group. Yes, finding parts of myself in each of the March girls is certainly something I've done over the years in my many readings of this beloved book. But it is Jo who shadows me even now. Jo and her alter-ego Louisa Alcott have been and are fascinating figures for me.


message 3: by Dottie (new)

Dottie  (oxymoronid) | 698 comments And, oh, as to having a Laurie next door -- well, not exactly a Laurie but I've had a couple of good male neighbors and friends who could pinch hit for Laurie. In fact when visiting family in my hometown a year ago, I ran into a couple of them after nearly forty years which was very nice.


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

I'll be getting started tonight. I had just started a HUGE slow-reading sort of book a couple of weeks ago, so Little Women will be a welcome break!


message 5: by Alison, the guru of grace (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod
I'm all for Laurie if he looks like Christian Bale. Well, a grown-up Christian Bale!


message 6: by Monique (new)

Monique (MoniqueReads) | 9 comments I haven't started but plan to this weekend. It has been so long since I have read this book that I can't even recall anything about it, just that it was good and there is a lovely poems somewhere in it.


message 7: by Deborah (new)

Deborah | 283 comments As I was reading Little Women, it occurred to me that I have absolutely no objectivity about this book. I was discussing it with a friend, and we agreed that it transcends literature and becomes cherished family. (As opposed to real family, who can at times be a real pain!) Jo made me want to be a writer. Oddly enough, when I was reading Catcher in the Rye, I was struck by how much the voice I used when I was writing fiction echoed Salinger, especially Holden's voice. As my friend Adrian said, "Jo makes you want to write, Holden teaches that you have something to say."




message 8: by Monique (new)

Monique (MoniqueReads) | 9 comments I never would have thought to like Catcher in the Rye with Little Women. I will think about what you said when I re-read Catcher in The Rye next month.


message 9: by Jen (new)

Jen (BibliophileJen) I agree that it is difficult to discuss the book with any objectivity. I have such fond memories of reading it often, and the girls are so comfortable and familiar. And Marmee? What a lovely model for a nurturing mother.


message 10: by Dini, the master of meaning (new)

Dini | 691 comments Mod
SPOILERS





The parents in this book seem very "perfect" to me -- wise, nurturing, and always knows what's best for the kids. Marmee does show a little weakness, though, by telling Jo about her temper problem. What do you all think? Is it OK for the kids to be flawed but not the parents?

And about the father, Mr. March was away in the first part of the book, but even after he came back he was largely absent in the story. Any thoughts on this?

One more thing... this is the first time I've actually read the book, but I've heard a lot about it, read a comicbook version and vaguely remember watching a filmed adaptation (forgot it was TV or movie). I was a little bummed when I first heard that Laurie didn't end up with Jo, who married an old professor instead while Laurie settled with Amy. What do you think about these pairings? My first thought was that the professor seemed like a "consolation prize", so that Jo at least wouldn't end up alone. Does it reflect Louisa May Alcott's own life -- she never married so she wanted her heroine to be happy? (I think we also touched this subject regarding Austen in our Sense & Sensibility discussion.)


message 11: by Kristi (last edited Dec 08, 2008 07:27AM) (new)

Kristi (KristiLarson) Marmee admitted to Jo that she suffered from the same problem, but was able to overcome it by a lot of work. Marmee's experiences with the problem were helpful to Jo, as Jo was able to take Marmee's advice on how to get past it.

For as much as they loved their father, Mr. March was mostly absent from the story. From what I read in the introduction, Alcott's father wasn't the perfect father. It sounds as if he wasn't the main provider for the family, not very grounded. And there was something about a farm or commune that the Alcotts lived on that was a disappointing experience. I'm sure Alcott loved her father, but maybe didn't respect him much or look up to him, and that translated into her novel. The women in her life were her role models.

I really liked Laurie, and wanted him to end up with Jo, but she actually followed her heart instead of doing what was expected of a young woman at the time. She loved Laurie, but she was IN LOVE with the professor. I don't think he was a consolation prize at all, she actually found a man that she would live and die for (like Laurie was afraid of).


message 12: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (sezza) | 12 comments I looooooove Little Women. One of my favorite books. I wish I had a neighbor like Laurie when I was growing up! I think what made the story so great is that it wasn't a predictable story like so many that came from that time period.


message 13: by Meghan (new)

Meghan | 76 comments Dini, I think Mr. March was fairly representative of fathers in his time -- he was actually probably a little more involved than a lot of fathers would have been with daughters. His beliefs and ideals were truly shared by his wife, not just adopted and mimicked, and they tried hard to teach their girls about them (abolition, child labor in silk production). I think Marmee was a pretty intriguing wife for the period.

Regarding Laurie/Prof. Behr, Jo never did love Laurie as anything more than a brother. I think that's also a fairly radical relationship -- a young, unchaperoned, unmarried girl allowed to be best friends with a young, wild, unmarried boy. I think Freidrich fit Jo better than Laurie. He loved her, but not so much that he'd let her do whatever she wanted -- he loved her enough to challenge her to be a better person, and that's something Laurie didn't do (Jo tried to challenge him, but he and Amy were more at the same level and had more values in common). I have to admit to always being partial to Friedrich over Laurie, though, especially as played by Gabriel Byrne :)

Regarding the Alcotts and the commune, there was an experimental communal farm called Brook Farm. It was sponsored by the Transcendental Club of Boston and was located in West Roxbury, Mass. The intention was to share labor so residents had time for leisure and culture -- things like lectures, writing and debates. Bronson Alcott (LM's father), Ralph Waldo Emerson and Thoreau are often cited as residents, but they never actually lived on Brook Farm. Nathaniel Hawthorne did, however.*

*Handbook to Literature, A


message 14: by Deborah (new)

Deborah | 283 comments SPOILERS










I think as children we all initially idealize our parents, and it's a milestone in our lives when we discover they aren't perfect. I always got the impression that Jo, as the "tomboy," was more her father's daughter, although she loved Marmee. I think when Jo discovers that she inherited her temper from her mother, it forges a new bond between them, which comes up again when Jo notices Marmee pursing her lips and leaving the room in response to Aunt March.

Having read the book March I now have a different view of the father, because in Geraldine Brooks' book, March, while idealistic and a good man, is definitely flawed and human. That knowledge adds a piquant element to the fact that the Marches fortunes have been greatly reduced owing to his very idealism combined with poor judgment.

When I first read the book as a girl, I of course couldn't understand why Jo didn't marry Laurie. It took me years to see how their marvelous friendship would have been ruined by marriage. I think Jo was really committed to going it alone, but in Friedrich found someone she could partner with, with whom she could create something worthwhile (if not the "greatness" to which she originally aspired)and her love for him grew out of respect and shared values.

Each time I read this book, I take something different away. This time, I was impressed with how Amy grew, especially in Europe. It took real maturity for her to realize that she didn't have the spark to be a great artist. It took even more wisdom for her to still love to draw and paint for her own pleasure. I found it interesting that she and Laurie both recognized that about themselves in Europe. Always before, I felt that theirs was a marriage born out of shared grief over Beth. This time I saw how they really grew into each other and their marriage.


message 15: by Dottie (last edited Dec 08, 2008 04:06PM) (new)

Dottie  (oxymoronid) | 698 comments Just a caution here -- yes, in Geraldine Brooks' book March the story shows Bronson Alcott as flawed, etc. But I'm not at all sure how much reliance one can put on the ideas and theories Brooks uses as the base of the story as to there basis in fact concerning Alcott. I have read widely on and about and by Bronson Alcott and Louisa Alcott both and can honestly say that I cannot recall any indication of his behaving as Brooks' story would have the reader think he did.

As for the communal thing -- I have a title which I will add here which is a good read concerning that period in the family's life -- I did very recently become aware that Louisa was likely about age ten during that long and hard year which may explain her remaining unmarried and her views on and less attention to the male characters in some instances.




message 16: by Deborah (new)

Deborah | 283 comments Dottie wrote: "Just a caution here -- yes, in Geraldine Brooks' book March the story shows Bronson Alcott as flawed,..."

Dottie, although I know Little Women is autobiographical (and I'm sure I have the book about Louisa and Bronson Alcott on my "to read" list), I think I'm looking at Mr. March as a fictional character, or, more to the point, two fictional characters. Since the character is pretty much a cypher in Little Women, it was easy, as I read, for Brooks' character to leach into the Alcott character, so Father took on a doppelganger.

It's obvious that Brooks did a fair amount of research into the Alcott family and Bronson in particular. But she created the character with modern or even post-modern sensibilities. Her March was idealistic, flawed and (thinking about him in retrospect) terribly self-involved.

Alcott's March and by extension his family was not so much idealistic than altruistic. These people were "other directed" to the degree that Beth sacrificed her health and eventually her life in caring for others. It's telling that Little Women opens on two acts of charitable thinking: the girls decide that, rather than buy presents for themselves, they will all buy presents for Marmee. Then Marmee asks them to sacrifice their special breakfast to feed a poor family.

That's what I think Alcott saw in her family, and especially her father, that Brooks either didn't see or ignored.

Brooks' Marches wanted to be thought of as good people, Alcott's Marches were good people.






message 17: by Dottie (new)

Dottie  (oxymoronid) | 698 comments It's obvious that Brooks did a fair amount of research into the Alcott family and Bronson in particular. But she created the character with modern or even post-modern sensibilities. Her March was idealistic, flawed and (thinking about him in retrospect) terribly self-involved.

First, I want to say that my post may have sounded as though I didn't think Brooks had researched Bronson Alcott properly but I didn't intend to imply that at all. I agree that her concept reads with more modern sensibilities. Her March is definitely idealistic, flawed and self-involved and I believe she is correct in that portrayal based on reading about the man. I think my problem with thinking on Brooks' story is that I was trying not to give away the main plot point so as not to spoil that book for those who have not read it, while saying I don't feel it is necessarily accurate


Alcott's March and by extension his family was not so much idealistic than altruistic. These people were "other directed" to the degree that Beth sacrificed her health and eventually her life in caring for others. It's telling that Little Women opens on two acts of charitable thinking: the girls decide that, rather than buy presents for themselves, they will all buy presents for Marmee. Then Marmee asks them to sacrifice their special breakfast to feed a poor family.

I think Alcott's portrayal of her family glossed over the failed nature of the family's idealistic(I would even say overly idealistic given what I've read) and/or altruistic leanings to some extent and part of that led to Father being less known. The fact that Father is absent for a great part of the story reflects the truth that Bronson Alcott was freqently absent from the family for extended periods of time. The charitable behavior on the part of the March family reflects that of the Alcotts to some degree certainly. Marmee in real life was quite a woman and Louisa Alcott was involved with women who were striking out for rights in their day.

I've never seen Beth as sacrificing her health. Given the times, her care and the decline which is indicated seems realistic. Even as late as the early 1930's many people who suffered scarlet fever were left debilitated and in fragile health for the remainder of their lives -- heart problems and other complications arose.

Much to thiknk about in your post there, Deborah.


message 18: by Deborah (new)

Deborah | 283 comments Dottie wrote: "It's obvious that Brooks did a fair amount of research into the Alcott family and Bronson in particular. But she created the character with modern or even post-modern sensibilities. Her March was i..."

Much to think about in your posts, too, Dottie. As I was typing my earlier post, I was thinking how much fun this was. I wouldn't have thought there would be such deep discussion of this book.




message 19: by Kristel (new)

Kristel | 164 comments It's seems to me that the problem that you describe with Brooks writing about the Alcott family is again the story of viewing historical facts with a contemporary interpretation. I remember the same thing coming up while discussing Dracula a while back.

SPOILER




I know exactly what you mean Deborah: "When I first read the book as a girl, I of course couldn't understand why Jo didn't marry Laurie. It took me years to see how their marvelous friendship would have been ruined by marriage." I also read the story as a young girl and really found it even disappointing that Laurie and Jo didn't get married...Now I understand better. Would have liked someone like Laurie to have lived next to me, but had sort of another version of Laurie, great friend but it became complicated...

About the parents being to perfect, it amazed me to by now re-reading the book years later on how strongly the absent father is idealized, him volunteering as a chapelain because he's to old to join the army...the guy left 4 children, 4 daughters and a wife alone.


message 20: by Katri (new)

Katri (Valancy) | 107 comments Somehow I don't remember ever being disappointed about Jo and Laurie not becoming a pair, it seemed right to me that they should stay friends. I guess I've never been very romance-oriented - I tended to regard romance as a necessary evil in books rather than something I was very enchanted by. Depends on the characters, of course (I don't recall ever having anything against Anne/Gilbert in the Anne of Green Gables books!), but generally romance wasn't what I was the most invested in, I cared more about the family relations and friendship. And I just thought it was great Jo could have this wonderful friendship with Laurie, and that meant more to me than any romantic pairing ever would have. She and Professor Bhaer were better suited as a couple, in my opinion.

I won't comment on the parents yet, I haven't started my reread yet and I don't remember exactly what I thought of them the previous time I read it. It's been a few years. But I've read the book enough times that the characters are like old friends, it'll be a pleasure to spend some time with them again.


message 21: by Deborah (new)

Deborah | 283 comments Brenda wrote: "Dini wrote: "SPOILERS

Don't forget when Little Women was being written, authors were trying to convey a message, so maybe the little family was portrayed as perfect. Louisa Mae Alcott may have al..."


Brenda, this is a very cogent observation and something I've been thinking about the past few days.
In the nineteenth century, and historically, literature and the other arts were seen as having the function of being uplifting. Good and evil were strongly delineated and there were very few gray areas. The March family is very idealized. Although the girls have their struggles with envy and pettiness, no one is disgraced (although perhaps Jo, in a literary fashion, skates perilously close before Friedrich rescues her). Dickens, I believe, began to break out of this mold with characters like Nancy in Oliver Twist, who is a good person trapped in a life of crime.

So, GiGis, what is the function of art?




message 22: by Dini, the master of meaning (last edited Dec 12, 2008 07:53PM) (new)

Dini | 691 comments Mod
Oscar Wilde said "All art is quite useless". Haha ;P

But I do agree that Alcott seemed to want her work to have a good effect, to teach girls what was good or bad. I think there was even a part when some publisher tells Jo that moral stories don't sell, and the narrator says something like "That's not really true, you know".

Brenda wrote: I always thought that him pairing up with Amy was more of a consolation prize than the other way around.

That occurred to me too. In fact, I think Laurie could have ended up with any of the March sisters (except Meg if you consider the age thing) because they were all so close to him and he seemed to be very comfortable around them. Of course this is just a far-off speculation.

But in regard to Jo, her marriage to Bhaer struck me more as "convenient" because he came at the right moment, when she was feeling lonely and miserable after Beth died and Laurie married Amy. Do you think she would've married him if Beth didn't die? Before that she seemed content with the prospect of not marrying and staying at home to care for Beth.


message 23: by Dottie (last edited Dec 12, 2008 10:12PM) (new)

Dottie  (oxymoronid) | 698 comments I have often thought that Prof B. was a combination of the real life person who inspired the character of Laurie and perhaps at least one other real person in Alcott's life. The best each of them -- a romantic pastische of the two -- with whom/with which Alcott herself was somewhat in love.

I always felt the character was fabricated to fill the role of the perfect mate for Jo and perhaps that is why I believe he is constructed of Alcott's ideals lifted from the people she came nearest to loving in her own life -- outside her family, that is.

I could just be indulging in embroidery but this is what I've concluded over time.


message 24: by Natalie (new)

Natalie | 23 comments Wow . . . what a great excuse to read Little Women - the 1st book I remember really ADORING - again. So many thoughtful, insightful observations . . .I'll be sure to check in w/ my nevertobehumble opinions! Where have you ladies been all my life?


message 25: by Robbie (new)

Robbie Bashore | 592 comments I thought Prof. B was a great match for Jo. She seemed to really need a more mature man to match her intellectually and not be intimidated by her. Any relationship with Laurie might have remained a bit child-like.


message 26: by Katri (new)

Katri (Valancy) | 107 comments By the way, sorry for a silly question, but are we supposed to read both parts? I'm accustomed to having two books called "Little Women" and "Good Wives", but I guess that since they're two parts of the same story, we will read both?

Anyway, I just finished the first book, and will go onto the second one. It's such a sweet book, I never tire of reading it. And I must say that while the tone of the narration occasionally feels preachy, mostly Alcott succeeds in putting the morals into the story and the characters, so that instead of feeling I'm preached at (which always makes me want to do the opposite thing) I immediately start feeling I should improve my own ways, too! She has such a way of presenting it so that you will feel much happier and more fulfilled that way.

To speak of the romance things for a while again - now that I finished the first volume, I have to say that it seems like it's setting up a Jo/Laurie romance, so I guess that's why many people are disappointed it didn't actually happen. Does anyone know if Alcott originally planned for them to get together and then changed her mind, or if she always planned that they would not end up together?


message 27: by Dini, the master of meaning (new)

Dini | 691 comments Mod
Katri, in the version I read, the two parts are combined in one book called Little Women.

I think what is great about the morals in the story is that Marmee doesn't just say don't this or don't do that but she lets the girls first learn what's good and bad for themselves and then talk to them about it at the end -- especially in the chapter "Experiments". It was really smart (and patient!) of her to do that.


message 28: by El (new)

El Dini wrote: ...Marmee doesn't just say don't this or don't do that but she lets the girls first learn what's good and bad for themselves and then talk to them about it at the end...

Very true. I'm sure Marmee was also based on Alcott's real mother, Abigail Alcott, who was a suffragette and active in many other movements. One of the core aspects of Transcendentalism is an inner spiritualism and intelligence, as well as a push to improve oneself. That had a large impact on how Louisa was raised, so it's no surprise that she would include that in Marmee's character - what better way to understand oneself than to grow through experiences, both good and bad?

Also remember the Alcott family was friends with Margaret Fuller, a woman's right activist, pushing specifically for the education of women and their right to work, both of which are topics that come up in Little Women.

I've always loved Marmee. What a strong and important contribution to literature.


message 29: by Katri (new)

Katri (Valancy) | 107 comments Over here the books usually seem to be sold separately so I'm used to thinking of it as two books, one being the sequel, rather than one two-part book.

Marmee is wonderful. And in a way Alcott manages to do it like Marmee: makes us experience these things with the girls and thus really learn them, instead of just preaching.


message 30: by Dini, the master of meaning (new)

Dini | 691 comments Mod
Katri, here's what I found on Wikipedia about the two parts of the book:

"The novel was first published on September 30, 1868, and became an overnight success, selling over 2,000 copies immediately. Readers clamoured for a second volume, and Alcott received many letters asking for a sequel. In response to this demand, Alcott wrote a second part which was published in 1869. The second part picks up three years after the events in the last chapter of the first part ("Aunt March Settles The Question"). Both parts were called Little Women or, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. In 1880, the two parts were combined into one volume, and have been published as such in the United States ever since. In the UK, the second part was published under the title Good Wives, though Alcott had no part in the decision."

And about Jo and Laurie:

"Alcott later wrote, "Jo should have remained a literary spinster, but so many enthusiastic young ladies wrote to me clamorously demanding that she should marry Laurie, or somebody, that I didn't dare refuse and out of perversity went and made a funny match for her"."


message 31: by Katri (new)

Katri (Valancy) | 107 comments Okay. So I guess over here they sell the British versions of the book and also have done the Finnish translations on those, not the original. Thanks for clearing that up!

Hehe, and that's funny about Jo's love life. Clearly Jo/Laurie shipping started early on. ;-) But hee, I bet I'd have done the same in her stead. I kind of wish Jo had remained single, just to show that it's not always necessary for a girl to get married to be happy. But Professor Bhaer is so adorable and unusual that I don't mind Jo marrying him.

I'm now up to the part where Amy goes to Europe. It's so sweet reading these books and watching the girls grow up. I love it that even though the books are in some ways idealised and the people perhaps are better than most people in the real world, they're still fully human and we can see the girls struggling with similar problems and emotions as we have ourselves. I loved it that Meg and John's first quarrel was over something completely silly and insignificant, because that's often what real-life quarrels are about, too, and it's nice to see that our literary examples don't always only flip out over truly important grievances - but that there is a way out of such quarrels, too.

I find something of myself in all the girls, too. In many ways I relate to Jo, what with literary aspirations and having a quick temper and something of a rebellious spirit, but at the same time, I have quite a bit of Amy in me too, and also some of Meg. To Beth I mainly relate in shyness (which I've mostly conquered but I still know it inside me), otherwise she is so good and sweet and unselfish I don't feel I am much like her...


message 32: by Deborah (new)

Deborah | 283 comments Well, I just finished Little Men (I knew I wouldn't be able to stop with just the first book, or first two books, however you look at it. I'm on to Jo's Boys next!) Oddly enough, there is more about women's rights and their place in the world in Little Men than in little women. In this book, Jo and Fritz have Daisy (Meg's little girl, one of the twins) at their school with her brother, Demi. Jo decides to take in Nan, a young girl who's mother has died and who's father can't manage her. Nan is wild but, of course, good-hearted, and Jo talks about her studying medicine and becoming a doctor. I really liked the fact that the idea was presented so matter-of-factly, as if the idea of a girl growing up to study and practice medicine were commonplace.


message 33: by Arctic (new)

Arctic | 571 comments so, it has taken me all month so far to get twenty pages into this book. Not exactly my cup of tea. too much sugar perhaps... And having seen the movies already might not be helping either.


message 34: by sara frances (new)

sara frances (sara_frances) | 36 comments I just finished this and i didn't really like it. It felt kinda slow and dull for most of it. The second half is better then this first, IMO. Another thing that bugged me was the sort of preachy tone. I did like the pairings though. Amy is perfect for Laurie. I still felt really bad for Laurie, but I knew it was for the best. And Jo is such an odd girl, she had to have an odd match. As soon as I met the Professor, I knew she had to marry him.




message 35: by Jessica (new)

Jessica | 100 comments So I just started reading the book and I do have to say that I am not to happy with it so far... I mean it is good and the writing is good but I just don't like it to much... hard to explain. Maybe it is just slow...


message 36: by Kristel (new)

Kristel | 164 comments Funny about the sugar comments and all. It has been over 15 years since I last read the book and I was looking forward to reading it again...but my taste apparently has changed a bit trough the years. I understand what has been said in these last threads, its really kind of a sweet story...maybe too sweet for my current taste.

I remembered something funny about "Little Women". I don't know if anyone remembers this episode of friends when Joey is persuaded by Rachel to read Little Women. Joey is used to scary books and putting scary books in the fridge when it gets too frightening. He puts Little Women in the fridge...

SPOILER

To me Beth's story is still the most sad passage in the book...if the book appears to be sweet now, that peace was really bittersweet.


message 37: by sara frances (new)

sara frances (sara_frances) | 36 comments That's so funny that you mention that Friends episode! I kept thinking about it the whole time I was reading! I have a hard time believing Joey was able to get that far into a book that I felt was rather slow, especially in the beginning, and he probably couldn't relate to it at all.


message 38: by Emily (new)

Emily | 40 comments So I'm reading this now, my mom used to read it to me as a kid and it's my first time reading it on my own. There are a lot of things I realize now that I didn't back then, like how preachy the book is. And maybe I've grown really up to be really cynical but the character Beth I just want to strangle! I can't stand her.


message 39: by Katri (new)

Katri (Valancy) | 107 comments Hmm, it's been a few years since I last read the book, and now that I'm in the second half of the second part, the preachiness is beginning to really get to me. I put up with it for quite a long time, because I'm used to it from books of this era and because in the beginning the moral was woven so sweetly into the story I didn't mind. But now I'm starting to wish Alcott stopped preaching and just got on with the story! Somehow the chapter about Meg's domestic and child-rearing problems ("On the shelf") was really difficult for me to get to. I rejoiced to finally finish that and get to Amy and Laurie, who are a lot more fun, but even that chapter was annoyingly preachy... And I feel that the characters react too meekly to the preaching they get. For example I feel it'd be more real and in-character for Laurie to first really resent Amy's preaching and only after a while start to understand that she had a point, instead of immediately reacting ashamed and wanting to amend his ways. I guess that in those times juvenile books had to hold up certain ideals, but I wish that Alcott didn't hurry quite so much in making saints out of her characters...

Well, I've only 100 pages left now, maybe the rest of it will be better. But I must say that the joy I had of reading this book began to be spoiled some time into the second book.

Something that amused me was Jo's episode with writing sensational stories. I kept wondering exactly what kind of stories she wrote and how bad they really were. It's different times we live in now, with regards to what kind of things young women are exposed to and are allowed to read and write, and I'm pretty sure I read and write much worse stuff without finding it does me any harm.


message 40: by sara frances (new)

sara frances (sara_frances) | 36 comments Emily-
LOL. I understand how you feel, but she grew on me as the book went on. She turned into this sort of helpless puppy and made her almost impossible to hate. I didn't adore her by any means, but I liked her.

Karti-
I think it gets better towards the end. I like the Amy/Laurie story line. And the rest of the book pretty much focuses on Jo. Since she was my favorite character, I enjoyed those last few chapters. I think I also liked the end better because then the girls were around my age, so it was easier to relate, IMO.


message 41: by Robbie (new)

Robbie Bashore | 592 comments Hmmm...I never read this as a kid, in spite of reading almost every other book in my hick-town library. Interestingly, I resisted, because I thought the title was a little pejorative (sp?), and I worried that the characters would be stereotypically subserviant. So, I found what you all are calling "preachiness" a pleasant surprise!


message 42: by Dottie (last edited Dec 24, 2008 10:50AM) (new)

Dottie  (oxymoronid) | 698 comments Robbie -- I'm so glad you enjoyed this one.

I think the "preachiness" is registered to a greater degree, the further removed the reader is from the time period. To my mind from a first reading fifty-five years ago when I was still surrounded by older female relatives who were born in the late 1800's, it seemed to reflect what I knew of their lives and childhoods which I'd heard from their own reminiscences. And living in a small town and with most of the family close by and friends of the family who were as close as if they were related was not so different in feeling from the lives Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy lived -- more modern but still very family oriented and church and charity played a fair part as well. I think that reading the preachiness as simply how the family instructed the lives of their children and/or lent support to friends to encourage good living can soften the negatives of the tome. The reader has to put their mind into the culture of the time to aid that process.


message 43: by Deborah (new)

Deborah | 283 comments Kristel wrote: "Funny about the sugar comments and all. It has been over 15 years since I last read the book and I was looking forward to reading it again...but my taste apparently has changed a bit trough the yea..."

Kristel - I thought about that Friends episode a lot during this read. Rachel's revealing of a specific plot development re Beth in response to Joey's revealing the end of The Shining is one of me favorite TV moments. Amazing the impact two simple words can have!


message 44: by Kristel (new)

Kristel | 164 comments I actually stopped re-reading Little Women. I got the book when I had the measles...I guess I was about ten years old back then. It comforted me and I have always treasured it as one of my most favorite books. I am beginning to think that some story shouldn't be read again. So, I decided to cherish Little Women rather as a childhood memory then continue reading and getting annoyed with the preachingly tone of the novel. I haven't put the book in the fridge but put it back where it belongs: on my bookshelf together with my other favorites.


message 45: by Joanie (new)

Joanie | 197 comments I just got the cutest little gift from my sister. My birthday was 12/26 and we celebrated today at my brother's house (his birthday was 12/31-my poor mom!) Anyway my sister got me this little hanging decoration called Laini's Ladies, it's a girl wearing big glasses and a skirt and it has beads hanging etc.

Now the reason why it's relevant here is because of the quote that's on it-"She's too fond of books and it has addled her brain" by Louisa May Alcott! My sister didn't know I was reading Little Women-it cracked me up. Just thought you all would appreciate it!


message 46: by Dottie (last edited Jan 01, 2009 06:37PM) (new)

Dottie  (oxymoronid) | 698 comments Oh, Joanie, that is simply too funny -- and appropriate as well, I'm sure -- ahem. It sounds really neat as well from your description. I wonder fleetingly at odd moments if all my reading -- aside from and including the many times I've read Alcott's classic -- has perhaps addled my brain. Then I give myself a shake and realize how silly that idea is! ;D


message 47: by Robbie (new)

Robbie Bashore | 592 comments Sounds like the Rebecca effect to me!


message 48: by Dottie (new)

Dottie  (oxymoronid) | 698 comments Oh, Robbie, I'm so glad you thought of that. I couldn't recall the exact name but remembered the talk about the coincidences/serendipitous connections. I should not have forgotten as Rebecca is one of my all-time favorites so I should be able to keep the Rebecca effect in my sieve longer than I did.;D


message 49: by Joanie (new)

Joanie | 197 comments I forgot about the Rebecca effect! You're right Robbie!


message 50: by Alison, the guru of grace (last edited Jan 04, 2009 02:37AM) (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod
I'm finally about 75% finished with my re-reading of Little Women. I had marked the inside cover of this book with my last reading--March 1987. I was 13. Throughout the book I had placed flowers in the pages--I vaguely remember reading this outside and doing that.

I have read and tossed about the previous comments in my head....trying to make some sense of how I feel about reading LW as a 13 year old vs. as a 35 year old. It's definetely sugary sweet--many parts over-the-top. But it doesn't take away from the value of the story for me. It's kind of like saying..."I don't really like Santa Clause. He's not realistic and nobody's THAT nice." But as a child, he meant the world to us. It's impossible to see things now the way we did then, and I truly believe this book was meant to be seen through the eyes of young girls. Reading it now shows me how much my perspective has changed.

As to Laurie and Amy. Well, they're just perfect for each other. Did anyone notice how, several times, it's mentioned that Jo has a heart for young boys...their wildness, their fun, their lack of restrictions and boundaries? I guess that's setting us up to understand why Jo ultimately opens a school for boys. I think Jo loved and was attracted to THAT side of Laurie...the boy that she could never be...free and wild. But I don't think she ever loved him or could have loved him romantically. Jo had to fall for someone that she could respect as a superior--someone who could show her something new and mature.

Marmee says of Jo & Laurie: "...I don't think you are suited to one another. As friends you are very happy, and your frequent quarrels soon blow over, but I feel you would both rebel if you were mated for life. You are too much alike and too fond of freedom, not to mention hot tempers and strong wills, to get on happily together in a relation which needs infinite patience and forbearance, as well as love."

Then..."You I leave to enjoy your liberty till you tire of it, for only then will you find that there is something sweeter."

I really think Jo needed to get out and experience life on her own before she could move on to her next stage of life...love.



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Books mentioned in this topic

Little Women (other topics)
A Handbook to Literature (other topics)
March (other topics)
Eden's Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father (other topics)
Eight Cousins (other topics)
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