Shovelmonkey1's Reviews > Little Women

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
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did not like it
bookshelves: read-in-2010, 1001-books
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: My mum and the 1001 books list
Recommended for: no one, seriously.

To me this book is just a big neon highlighted literary exclamation mark defining how incredibly different I am from my mother. She loves this book. Really, really loves it....a lot. She always used to tell me how great she thought it was although, as a kid I somehow avoided reading it; mainly because at this point I was too busy dangling from a climbing frame by my ankles or stealing scrap wood from building sites in order to make dens and tree houses.

As it is prominently placed on the 1001 books list I thought, "What the hell I'll give it a go". Man oh man what an epic snooze fest. Less than twenty pages in I could feel my mind slowly shutting down. Was it through boredom? Or was I entering a diabetic coma because of the saccharine overload created by the sickly sweet world of Margaret, Jo, Beth and Amy? Anyway to avoid succumbing to said coma I threw the book as far away from me as I could and then chucked a blanket over it to ensure that I wouldn't be effected by the mind numbing dullness being exuded from between the covers.

I know that I risk howls of outrage at this lambasting of a much loved classic but this ticked no boxes for me. I am clearly dead inside.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
April 25, 2010 – Finished Reading
May 5, 2011 – Shelved
May 5, 2011 – Shelved as: read-in-2010
May 5, 2011 – Shelved as: 1001-books

Comments Showing 1-32 of 32 (32 new)

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 ~Geektastic~ I love little Women, but you won't get any arguments from me. It's one of those books that I can't quite figure out why I like it, as it is ridiculously precious. Maybe because I read it when I was younger? I just don't know.


Shovelmonkey1 If it holds sweet childhood memories for you then shame on me for being a hater! Maybe I would have loved this when I was younger but now I am old and bitter it is a whole different ball game.


 ~Geektastic~ If you want to try something (a little) less sweet by Alcott, try Work.


Shovelmonkey1 Hmm, to once again plumb the depths of my literary ignorance, I was not aware that she'd ever written anything else. Thanks!


Richard I read this and some of the related books as a kid and liked them, but looking at this stuff again as an adult, I have to agree. It is, as you said, coma-inducingly saccharine.

Little Women is, however, semi-autobiographical. Jo, who is a rebel (at least compared with the other sisters) is based on Alcott herself. And IMHO, Jo was the most realistically portrayed of any of the characters. Even as a dude, I could relate to having epic fits of temper followed by remorse.


Shovelmonkey1 A clear and concise view of a classic, thank you Richard. As usual I write these things when insensible with book related negativity and then need someone to provide the other perspective for me.


Richard Shovelmonkey1 wrote: "A clear and concise view of a classic, thank you Richard. As usual I write these things when insensible with book related negativity and then need someone to provide the other perspective for me."

Believe me, I wasn't trying to contradict you. I understand and even share some of the negativity.

But I've found that there are a number of books I read as a child that mean much less to me now as an adult. Strangely enough, I even had one case of this going in the other direction. There was an author highly recommended to me--by my mother as it happens--whom I tried to read but just couldn't get into. Years later, I picked up one of these books, couldn't put it down, and ended up reading six or seven others by the same author. Now the author is one of my favourites. So these phenomena seem to be about literary maturity, and what you are ready for at any one time in your life may change.


Shovelmonkey1 S'ok I know you weren't trying to contradict me. I agree that tastes change through the years too.


Miriam I was not aware that she'd ever written anything else.

Tons! Including some adult novels (with Teh Sexx even!). I don't love anything of hers, but I liked some of it better than Little Women, which made me progressively more and more angry as I read along. Probably because it was autobiographical! Nothing like the real lives of historical women to piss a gal off.


message 10: by Libbie Hawker (new)

Libbie Hawker (L.M. Ironside) Substitute "you" with "me" and "your mom" with "my sister" (this is starting to sound dirty...) and you have just written the story of my life with regards to Little Women.


Shovelmonkey1 To Miriam and Lavender, ha - both your comments amused me. And to Lavender: when you wrote your book The Sekhmet Bed, what prompted you to set a book in Ancient Egypt rather than any other historical period?


Judith You're not dead....just grown up (no, I did not say "adult"). I have a copy of Louisa May Alcott Unmasked: Collected Thrillers....which doesn't make the Earth move, but hasn't put me in a coma...yet.


Shovelmonkey1 That's what i love about goodreads. A whole new book world has opened before me tonight thanks to all your comments... and even if I never read another Louisa May Alcott book, I now have a substantial list of christmas books to get my Mum!


message 14: by Libbie Hawker (new)

Libbie Hawker (L.M. Ironside) Shovelmonkey -- I've always loved ancient Egypt, since I was a kid. Seemed like a natural choice. :)


Nandakishore Varma I liked this book (somewhat) because I had seen its adaptation as a TV serial in India during my early twenties. The teenage actress who played Margaret was sweet and I fell in love with her.

But I agree with you, SM1, that the story is so cloyingly sweet that you'll almost puke.


Richard Nandakishore wrote: "... the story is so cloyingly sweet that you'll almost puke..."

Yes, should we wish it, this discussion could continue ad nauseam! :)

I saw an old film version (1949) with June Allyson playing Jo. She was rather endearing, and for my feeling, carried the film. I didn't really care for Elizabeth Taylor as Amy, however.


Elaine I think Richards hit the nail on the head when he says with his adult eyes he can see how saccarine sweet it is. I think maybe as a child I was blind to all that cloying sweetness but now re reading much loved chilhood books I think What!!!. I have experienced the same with the What Katy did books and Anne of Green Gables too. I will always love them though :)


message 18: by Richard (new)

Richard Derus My mother handed this book to me with the bribe, "read this and every girl you ever meet will want you to be her boyfriend."

In spite of the creeping kudzu of terror and revulsion this caused inside me, I was curious enough to read it and the talk about it in high school classes.

Mother was right. Pity I didn't want the girls to be mine, though.

Book's flat awful.


message 19: by Libbie Hawker (new)

Libbie Hawker (L.M. Ironside) Okay -- Elaine got me on the Anne of Green Gables books. Those are also cloying but I still love them. That was the only cloying girliness my sister managed to snare me with in my childhood!


Cecily "saccharine overload". Yep, that sums it up.

I'm not surprised at its historic popularity; I'm more puzzled at its continuing popularity.


Devina Different strokes for different folks. I guess this is one of those books I'd taken to as a kid, and I was curious how people lived back then and I still wonder if they were really that nice to each other, somehow it seems unlikely and I suspect I gave it a five mostly because I liked Jo out of the bunch.


message 22: by Allison (new)

Allison Thompson 20 minutes just doesn't seem like enough of a shot to give a book a review.


Shovelmonkey1 It wasn't 20 minutes it was more like 100 pages. Just not my kind of book. hopefully the review reflects the fact that this was my experience of the book and not an in depth analysis of the story and themes contained therein.


Miriam Good call -- the second half is worse.


hpboy13 Amen to that! I powered through the first quarter because it's a friend's favorite book, but I had to stop before I got diabetes.


Richard hpboy13 wrote: "Amen to that! I powered through the first quarter because it's a friend's favorite book, but I had to stop before I got diabetes."

Glad you are safe!


message 27: by Zoe's Human (new)

Zoe's Human I love Little Women. Having ... erm, developed an immunity to the sweetness over the last 31 years of my life, I am now able to just enjoy the beauty of the language in it. I think it's something you have to discover young enough to not be bothered by the "sickly sweet world." In fact, I'm pretty sure if I had discovered it as an adult, I would have loathed it for exactly the same reasons as you.

If you want to explore Alcott further, you might also consider looking for a copy of a Feminist Alcott. It isn't her best work in terms of literary quality, but they aren't sweet stories either. The work is also interesting from a historic perspective. I recommend reading the introductory material in that book since it helps set the mental stage for where feminism was at in that particular time and why the work was feminist then, though it wouldn't be now.

Of course, as fascinating as all that is to me, taste is subjective. :)


Katniss Everdeen (aka Catnip) I ABSOLUTELY LOVE Little Wemon!!!


message 29: by Slayqueen (new)

Slayqueen I love little women . But people have their different opinions.


Christy Flint I can’t stop laughing over this. It’s so true 😂😂


Larissa I think our world needs more sweetness and kindness. Plus, there is plenty of strife in this book. She just shows how the girls grow to handle strife with grace. Something that is needed now more than ever.


Steve R Spot on! I actually managed to finish it (one of my self imposed rules), but I can't remember the last time I said 'Thank God that's over!' when I finihsed a book.


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