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Anne Boyd Rioux
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Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters

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3.86  ·  Rating details ·  331 Ratings  ·  96 Reviews
Since its publication on September 30, 1868, Little Women has been one of America’s favorite stories. While we now think of it as a girls’ book, it was initially read by both boys and girls, men and women of all ages. Professor Anne Boyd Rioux, who read it in her twenties, tells us how Louisa May Alcott came to write the book and drew inspiration for her story from her own ...more
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Published August 21st 2018
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Teresa
Nov 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a joy to read and I hated to see it end. Even if you’re not a Little Women aficionado, there’s a lot to learn here about societal, educational and cultural trends (just to name a few topics) of the past 150 years. (150 years! It’s hard to believe that a book I started loving as a child and that’s still relevant today was written that long ago.)

The first section, ‘The Making of a Classic’, gives a brief history of how and why Little Woman came to be and of its instant fame. I didn’t thin
...more
Diane Barnes
A well-written, interesting and well thought out book about the novel and what it meant to the girls of yesterday, and the new readers of today. Also a surprising mini biography of Alcott's own life and how closely it mirrored the characters and action in her classic. Recommended to anyone who is a Little Women fan.
Nancy
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
2018 marks the 150th anniversary of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, a novel which became a trendsetter best seller, influencing generations of girls.

Anne Boyd Rioux's new book Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: the Story of Little Women and Why They Still Matter celebrates the novel's history, legacy, and influence.

I don't recall when I first read Little Women. I was given a copy of Alcott's later novel Eight Cousins when I was in elementary school. Madame Alexander created Little Women dolls, and in 1960
...more
Beth Bonini
Professor Anne Boyd Rioux makes some bold claims for Little Women, including that it is “arguably the most influential book ever written by an American woman.” This is not so much a work of literary criticism - although Rioux does cite what various literary critics have had to say about the novel - but more an examination of the work’s origins, a study of its relevance and popularity during the past 150 years, and an appraisal of its current status within the canon. Throughout, but particularly ...more
Rebecca
(See my Literary Hub article on rereading Little Women in its 150th anniversary year and watching the new BBC/PBS miniseries adaptation.) Rioux’s book unearths Little Women’s origins in Alcott family history, but also traces its influence through to the present day. Multiple generations of heroines, she believes, “owe an obvious debt to Alcott’s pathbreaking portrayal of a spunky young heroine with a literary bent”—everyone from Anne Shirley in L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series to He ...more
Emily
This was rather fun, but I enjoyed the first half, about Alcott's life and the immediate reception of her most famous book, a great deal more than the second, which peters out into an examination of pretty much any contemporary work in any medium in which girls are the the main characters (Katniss and the Gilmore Girls get a lot of attention, apparently being literary descendants of Jo March; I was unconvinced). None the less, any fan of Little Women will want to read this, and should. I was ple ...more
Chris Wolak
One of the best books about a book/books that I’ve read. This is engaging literary scholarship for a popular audience — if you have the slightest interest in Little Women, Louisa May Alcott, 19th century American literature, film adaptations, literary history, reading & pop culture, or young girls’ and boys’ reading choices/experiences (among a host of other issues), this is a book you’ll want to check out.

I'll write a more detailed review soon.
Rebecca H.
Aug 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters by Anne Boyd Rioux is a wonderful look at Louisa May Alcott’s novel, including its context, history, meaning, contemporary significance, and more. I loved Little Women and read it multiple times as a kid and teenager (and should read it again as an adult), so Rioux’s book was particularly fun for me, although I think anyone who is interested in literary history would get a lot out of it even if they weren’t an Alcott fan. It’ ...more
Deb
Sep 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very unique look at one of my favorite books. Anne Boyd Rioux looks at Little Women in various ways. Why it was written and the parallels between the March girls and Louisa's sisters and family. How the novel was published and of Louisa's writing career after. She also looks at the multi media aspect of Little Women. The different film productions, theater productions and an opera production. Her final focus was on how Little Women influenced other writers, actors and women of all kinds. She t ...more
Robin
Sep 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rioux's book is excellent! Even if you've never read Little Women and never will, this is a fascinating cultural history of the continuing influence of Little Women. I checked this out from the library, but am going to buy a copy - adding it to my collection of "books about books". Definitely a favorite read of 2018. Thank you to the @BookCougars podcast for selecting it as one of their readalongs for their "Summer of Little Women"!!
Lisa Jass
Aug 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found Rioux's book Meg Jo Beth and Amy to be both an informative and entertaining read. She gives an account of how Alcott came to write these beloved characters, but she also gives insight into why this story has endured as long as it has and has resonated with both writers and readers for generations and why some generations have more ties to these characters than others. As someone who is including Louisa May Alcott in my own dissertation, I found this book to be a useful addition to my res ...more
Susan Bailey
Aug 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Most important work on Little Women in years - for the fan as well as the scholar

Disclaimer: I was sent an advance copy by the publisher to review.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of a classic read by millions around the globe. Written by Louisa May Alcott, a writer under duress fulfilling the assignment of an insistent publisher, Little Women, in the words of Anne Boyd Rioux is the “paradigmatic book about growing up, especially for the female half of the population.” He
...more
Sarah Emsley
Oct 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had been looking forward to reading this book for a long time and when I finally got a copy I couldn't put it down. I loved reading about the creation of Little Women and I found Anne Boyd Rioux's analysis of the book's afterlife fascinating, especially the chapter called "Can Boys Read Little Women?" and the long lists of writers who've been inspired by Alcott's novel, from J.K. Rowling to John Green to Simone de Beauvoir.
Jill
Sep 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent analysis of Little Women's cultural, feminist, and literary impact since its publication 150 years ago. I couldn't put it down and learned a lot about a book and author that I thought I was already familiar with. A recommended read for anyone interested in women's literature.
Melissa
Aug 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lovely overview of Alcott’s life, the publication history of Little Women, and how Alcott’s most famous creation has endured as a beloved work of American literature.

Unless we’re talking about the “canon” and then “ugh, girl cooties” which is the basis for almost an entire chapter about why boys don’t/aren’t expected to/can’t read “girl books” even as girls are fully expected to read “boy books” and I spent almost that whole chapter yelling PREACH SISTER at my iPad.
Rose
Jul 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters by Anne Boyd Rioux is a look at the making of "Little Women", it's success, and why it is relevant today. It shows us how and why this book is a timeless classic.

I learned a lot from this book that I hadn't previously known. I liked how it went over how the characters reflected the author and her family. I also enjoyed how the author talked about the illustrations found in "Little Women". This book covers almost  everything y
...more
Susan
Apr 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Literary criticism about Little Women and its sequels. Of course I read it when I was about ten and hadn't thought of it since but it's clear my kid sensibility missed a whole lot and I didn't realize how autobiographical it was. So I have to go back and read them all again but first it sent me on a wild hunt for all the movies based on them - about one a decade plus the Masterpiece version coming in May. The bones are the same but each decade seems to have it's own flavor and emphasis.
Linda
Sep 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Melissa
I want others to read this book so I can talk with them about it. Who would think that my favorite book from my childhood would be responsible for this and so many other books. I could not spend enough time with this book and it presents so many topics to discuss - did boys/men read "Little Women" and why or why not.
There was a great quote that basically asked if boys read about aliens, why wouldn't they read books about females? (I think there are so many ways to take that question.)
It is disap
...more
Libby
Oct 07, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting biographical and historical information about Louisa May Alcott, some I knew but much I did not. I have a new appreciation for her, as she was a wildly successful writer who happened to be a woman, and as she supported her own family of origin and many of her sisters' families too. It's a short book, but I bailed at page 84, as we began to read of the move from the page to Broadway. I guess I'm not interested enough to hang in for another hundred pages, which seems to end with discus ...more
Mary
Aug 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Or, everything you ever wanted to know about "Little Women" but were afraid to ask!

Seriously, no matter how much of a fan of Louisa May Alcott you are, you'll probably learn something from this book. Ms. Rioux covers:

Louisa's life, and how it was reflected in her most famous book.
The book's reception over the decades--both critical and popular.
Its adaptations, from the beginning of the 20th century onwards. I had no idea there were so many! In particular, I had no idea there was an opera!
How th
...more
Veronica
Aug 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating history of Louisa May Alcott and "Little Women," just in time for the book's 150th anniversary. While I've read more than my share of Alcott biographies, I don't think I've ever read critical analysis of "Little Women." It was a fun read for me, the author dissected the book, offered historical references, character sketches, and showed the influence it had on various authors, books, movies and TV shows (Gilmore Girls, which is one of my all-time favorites). I intend to read Rioux' ...more
Kari
Aug 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have loved Little Women ever since I was a little girl, and I’ve re-read it frequently over the last 30+ years. Each time, I take something new away from the text, either because I connect with a different character or because I have new life experiences that make me read it in a new way. When you love a novel this much, sometimes you’re afraid to hear other opinions or information about it, for fear that might take away some of the magic for you. That is not at all the case with Anne Boyd Rio ...more
Janilyn Kocher
Jun 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have been anticipating this book for over a year. Finally, after pursuing several outlets, NetGalley came through. Reading Rioux's book did not disappoint. She divides the books into sections: discussing the background and publication of Little Women, commercial adaptions of the book, the relevancy of the story to different genres, and the timeless messages that are universally appealing. Rioux's writing is excellent and her research is thorough. It's sad to read that Little Women has dropped ...more
Linda
May 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A detailed microhistory of the phenomenon of Little Women, one of the books I read to pieces growing up. Rioux unearths the underlying social issues beneath the story's surface, and explores adaptations over the years as readers and viewers attempt to make this story their own.
Karyl
I don't recall how old I was when I first read Little Women. I generally read my Illustrated Junior Library copy, which included both volumes one and two, but occasionally I opted for a Waldenbooks special edition with gilt edges that was just volume one, and I can recall staring at the plate with Meg at Vanity Fair in her blue dress, rapt with adoration for such a beautiful thing. I also own another volume that includes all four of Alcott's works with the March family (Little Women, Good Wives, ...more
Megan
Oct 08, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
I'll start my review by saying that I fall into the category of Little Women readers that Rioux often discusses as being the hard core fans whose love of Little Women stems from their childhood. It was my obsession with this book that led me to seek out a print copy and eventually devour it on audio. I was thrilled to dive into what I assumed would be a non-fiction book giving a fun and in depth look into Alcott, the story and its influence. My three star rating comes from the fact that those el ...more
Susan
This book is one of the best I've read this year. It is the story of the book Little Women and it's author, Louisa May Alcott. The author, a literature professor, discusses the novel in the context of its time and in the life of its author. Each part of the book is interesting. The author weaves the story of the Alcott family into the story of Little Women, discussing parallels and differences, particularly the parallels between Jo and Louisa and the influence Jo has had on other writers. She wr ...more
Jeanne
Oct 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The premise behind this book is that Little Women is still a viable book for today's readers. The fact is, though, that hardly anyone reads the book anymore. Once popular with all ages and genders, it is now labeled and touted as only a girl's book, which Rioux explains is unfortunate.

Anne Boyd Rioux explains that Little Women is a book that shows the growing-up stages of four very different girls, and each one has different challenges to overcome on the way. She follows the history of the crea
...more
Katy Alice (The Girl in the Garret)
This is a great book for Alcott fans (perhaps not Alcott academics as it does repeat a lot of the standard LMA biography that is fairly well known) looking to explore the history, legacy and cultural impact of our beloved book. Part 1 gives some excellent information about the publication history and initial phenomenal response, while Part 2 deals with the legacy. Here is where the book both sings and sinks. Boyd-Rioux’s analyses are interesting and her research is thorough, she is especially st ...more
Peggy L
I enjoyed the first part of the book, a quick read of LM Alcott's life, her influences and role models.
Also enjoyed the results of many hours of author research, the story of the extent which Little Women is known and loved worldwide. I was not surprised to learn that Jo, as close to an autobiographical depiction and still called fiction, was the most favored character and role model to many women writers. I too was Jo when I read "Little Women" the first time, age 9 or so. Tom boy, independent
...more
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Anne Boyd Rioux is passionate about the recovery off 19th-century women writers, many of whom have been unjustly forgotten. She is the author of MEG, JO, BETH, AMY: THE STORY OF LITTLE WOMEN AND WHY ITS STILL MATTERS (Aug. 2018, Norton), CONSTANCE FENIMORE WOOLSON: PORTRAIT OF A LADY NOVELIST, and editor of MISS GRIEF AND OTHER STORIES, (both Norton, 2016). She is a professor at the University of ...more
“And if boys enjoy books about aliens, which they certainly do, why not also books about girls?” 0 likes
“Although ostensibly about Elsa's inability to continue hiding her fearful power of freezing everything she touches, the song is really about growing up, breaking free of authority, and accepting yourself.” 0 likes
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