Mary's Reviews > Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters

Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy by Anne Boyd Rioux
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really liked it

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 the book influenced other authors. Here again, I had no idea it was one of John Green's favorite books, just to give one example. Nor did I tumble to the fact that Kingsolver's "Poisonwood Bible" reflects Alcott's work.

She quotes G.K. Chesterton, in an essay I actually read, praising "Little Women" for being an early example of realism. And, in her discussion on whether or not boys should read it, she says, "One reason that so many male readers have been uncomfortable with "Little Women"--and perhaps the most important reason they should read it--is that it flips the perspective between boys and girls in a way few other literary texts have done. ..Girls are for once at the center, and boys and men are at the margins." (page 174)

This isn't a book one can simply read as if it were a story. There's an awful lot of information here, and, though it's generally clearly presented, I sometimes got lost in all the names. But, in the end, I found it both enjoyable and enlightening. And I agree; boys should read this book! I also agree that it is honest about growing up as a woman in a way too few books are today. It's possible for a girl to be the hero of her own adventure without being an ersatz boy. Rioux convincingly demonstrates that Jo, Meg, Amy (and arguably even Beth) are such heroines.
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Reading Progress

August, 2018 – Started Reading
August 25, 2018 – Shelved
August 25, 2018 – Finished Reading

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