Jonathan Terrington's Reviews > Little Women

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
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Little Women remains to this day one of the books I have, curiously, read the most. And I'm not ashamed to state this. Why should I be? The notion that certain films or books are 'chick-lit' is one so alien to my mind. They may be geared at specific audiences mostly, but any strong work of art will appeal to any individual - or rather can appeal to any individual - person.

I don't know what it is about Little Women that made me so attracted to it. Perhaps it was the characterisation in the women in the book at the age of ten. Maybe something in my childish mind told me that independent and restrained elegance in female characters was something to be admired when it could be created in fiction - when I say restrained elegance I mean the wisdom of modesty. Something about the girls - Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy - appealed to me, something told me that they were well crafted characters.

Who can explain why any fictional book touches anyone? Who can define how we class things such as quality or beauty? It seems to be something subconscious, something picked up both culturally and individually. To me, Little Women was, and because of fond memories still is, a work of pure art. It has its rough patches no doubt but it kept drawing me back in with the tales of women discovering their paths in life and ultimately a romance. Some might find this an overly sympathetic or sappy book. I'm not here to say it isn't. But it touched me in a particular way and that is what I'm hear to state. Think of me as someone who has had an experience with a novel - for it is the nature of humanity to aim to share experience.

I'll always describe myself as a romantic at heart, in the sense that I'm an idealist, that I hold to ideals and to the belief that people can be better. Age and time have perhaps developed me into more of a cynical idealist but a part of me is strongly romantic deep down. It is the poetic side of me, the writer side of me, the side that wants to break free of conventions and try to find the words to explain what I so clumsily cannot. It is that part of me that was awakened by such literature as this - I must admit that delving into something like Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret might have stunted such development however.

Somewhere in a distant time a copy of Little Women floats. It has paper browned through the constant touching of grubby little fingers; pages crumpled and worn with regular turning (or heaven forbid - leaving it with the spine open on a chair); and there are unidentifiable food stains on several pages. It may not have been the greatest of copies, certainly nothing extraordinary about it, but it was my copy. And it was a copy well loved. And it was the extra love that added an aura of romance and a boundless love to it. And it is to this image, lost in the vortex of space and time, that I return to when I think of this novel.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
October 25, 2011 – Shelved
October 25, 2011 – Shelved as: personal-favourites
October 25, 2011 – Shelved as: classic-literature
February 8, 2012 – Shelved as: children-s-literature
April 12, 2012 – Shelved as: 1001-books-to-read-before-you-die
June 14, 2012 – Shelved as: childhood-book

Comments Showing 1-14 of 14 (14 new)

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message 1: by Dolors (new)

Dolors This is a beautifully woven review Jonathan. I have both "Little Women" and "Good Wives" on my shelves waiting to be read, and your touching thoughts made them go up some places in my TBR pile.


Jonathan Terrington Thank you Dolors. Other friends reading these reminded me I hadn't written a review or re-read them in over five years. I intend to do the second at some point.


Book Concierge Great book. Great review!


Jonathan Terrington Book Concierge wrote: "Great book. Great review!"

Thank you!


message 5: by Valerie (new)

Valerie I've never owned a copy of Little Women. My aunt had a copy of Eight Cousins (which I found pretty good, personally) in her attic: rather an odd place, in a house full of books.

My attitude toward Little Women has always been fairly similar to my attitude toward Uncle Tom's Cabin. I'm well aware that I'm being emotionally manipulated, but I'm willing to go along with it, since the drive is toward somewhere I want to go.

As for sentimentality, I sort of understand why there was a rebellion against it in the early 20th century. There was a tendency to argue that people were being rendered pathetic, and not agents in their own lives: that we were being invited to pity people, but not to do anything to help them.

And this is a valid critique; what it's not is a reason to abandon a technique of writing which can be used to help people empathize with others. There may have been a basis for a moratorium on sentimental writing, until it could be examined and overhauled, but a complete ban on it was arguably never necessary.


Jonathan Terrington I definitely agree with you there on understanding to a degree why there was a rebellion against certain things like sentimentality. I believe a large part of it was due to the onset of the Great War and belief such things made individuals weak and unable to let go of the past. The problem is as always ignoring such ideas because of that rather than accepting their existence and working with them - in and of itself sentimentality is not necessarily a bad thing.


Safiyah i agree you with you. I didn't read your whole review but I do agree that books or movies can appeal to any individual person. I don't think "chick-lit" or "chick-flicks" should only be read or watched by girls. And I am a girl.


Jonathan Terrington Thanks Safiya, yes I definitely think there is a problem in saying anything is 'only' for a particular group of people!


Safiyah your welcome. And it's true


message 10: by Olga (new) - rated it 5 stars

Olga Thank you Jonathan for reviewing this book so beautifully!! The poetic side of you definitely did this book justice with your review, ''the side that wants to break free of conventions and try to find the words to explain what you so clumsily cannot'' (I love it how you said it!).


Jonathan Terrington Thank you very much Olga :)


message 12: by jay.k.book (new)

jay.k.book great review!!


Jonathan Terrington Thanks jay.k.book!


Abbie Nordstrom I really love this review :)


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