Cecily's Reviews > Little Women

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
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it was ok
bookshelves: classics, overrated, canada-and-usa, did-not-finish

I was given this more than 30 years ago, and it never appealed, but I gave it a go when it was selected by my book group.

As most people know, it's Louisa May Alcott's semi-autobiographical account of four teenage sisters growing up in slight poverty, while their father is away at war.

The opening words alerted me to the tone: "'Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without any presents'... 'I don't think it's fair for some girls to have plenty of pretty things, and other girls to have nothing at all.'" Despite this, they are virtuous and generous girls (albeit, each has a little quirk: Jo is a tomboy, Amy a bit prim etc). If that doesn't tug at the heart strings enough, it is peppered with sentimentality, such as "Very few letters were written in those hard times that were not touching, especially those which fathers sent home." and "Tell us another story, mother; one with a moral". Too much cheese/saccharine for my taste, so I gave up 1/3 of the way through.

The book is of its time (Victorian), but, perhaps because it was written for young adults, there is a simplicity of language and structure that exacerbates the self-conscious self-righteousness of it. It lacks the depth, breadth and moral grey areas of more adult writers of the time, such as Dickens. That may be an unfair comparison, as he was writing for a different audience, but it nevertheless reflects my reaction.



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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
August 6, 2009 – Shelved
August 6, 2009 – Shelved as: classics
August 9, 2009 – Shelved as: overrated
August 9, 2009 – Shelved as: canada-and-usa
October 30, 2017 – Shelved as: did-not-finish

Comments Showing 1-13 of 13 (13 new)

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Lorraine I think it depends on the age at which one reads it. I remember loving it when I was a kid (around 12 or so) and it really appealed to me. My ex-supervisor has published one re-writing of this called Little Women in India (http://newshub.nus.edu.sg/headlines/0... -- that's my ex-sup in green!) and I recall it being a bit too 'obviously' post-colonial for my taste. When I brought this up to my sup she said that she thought I wouldn't really like it, but she hoped that it might appeal to the YA (read: young teenage) readers whom it was tailored for. That's when I recalled I think -- probably had I picked up the Alcott NOW it would've put me off. I doubt I would pick up the Alcott again any time soon. I think that it is stinkily moral yes.


message 2: by Manybooks (new) - added it

Manybooks Considering that this book was written in 1868, I think it was remarkably progressive for its time, certainly much more progressive than much children's and girl's fiction of even the early to middle 20th century.


Cecily That's a fair point, Gundula, but even so, it's just too twee for my taste.


message 4: by Manybooks (new) - added it

Manybooks Cecily wrote: "That's a fair point, Gundula, but even so, it's just too twee for my taste."

I actually like the book better now than I did when I read it as a child (I like the second part better than the first part though).


message 5: by Christy (new)

Christy Certainly the girls had a "voice" here - a presence - that was original for the time. Things happened to and by them, even if SLOWLY... It was progressive for children much more so for girls to have this type of action and reflection right after the Civil War. Still, and I read everything then, I just couldn't get into this book. Thought it boring, and that the girls did boring things. I remember thinking this is why I'd figured out it was the boys that had the most fun, by far, and to hang out with them.

I have dragged a couple teen girls, myself, down to Route 2 on Concord, MA, as the Alcott house, school, and museum are quite interesting (especially if you're in that the area to see Revolutionary War stuff, anyway!) Thanks for this critical review of a classic.


message 6: by Lata (new)

Lata Interesting! I read this when I was 10-ish, and found it didn't appeal. I never had any desire to reread it, though acknowledge it was good to have a story, written when it was, that focused on the girls and their experiences and feelings.
I remember I kept putting book aside so I could run out and play.


message 7: by Cecily (last edited Dec 05, 2016 10:42PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Cecily Christy wrote: "Certainly the girls had a "voice" here - a presence - that was original for the time...."

Yes, that's true and important. But for me, it remains significant as a milestone, rather than something I want to try reading again.

I'm not sure we'll ever be in MA. We had hoped to visit the US in August 2017 for the total eclipse, but the Brexit effect on exchange rates makes it far more expensive, and Trump's America is a less appealing option anyway (not that I think all in the US share his views). We're still undecided.


Cecily Lata wrote: "Interesting! I read this when I was 10-ish, and found it didn't appeal. I never had any desire to reread it... I kept putting book aside so I could run out and play."

If you didn't enjoy it at 10, I'm not sure it's worth trying it again; you'd surely see it differently, but not necessarily with more enjoyment.

I'm sure Jo would approve of your rushing outside to play.
;)


Nandakishore Varma This book was way too sentimental for me: I would have dumped it had it not been for Jo March.

There was a Hindi TV serial based on this book during the late eighties. It was called Kachchi Dhoop (Morning Sunlight), and was a hit with the family audience.


Cecily Nandakishore wrote: "This book was way too sentimental for me: I would have dumped it had it not been for Jo March.

There was a Hindi TV serial based on this book during the late eighties..."


Yep, far too sentimental for me. I can imagine a soapy family-oriented adaptation work. Waltons-esque?


Nandakishore Varma Cecily wrote: "Nandakishore wrote: "This book was way too sentimental for me: I would have dumped it had it not been for Jo March.

There was a Hindi TV serial based on this book during the late eighties..."

Yep..."


I have not watched The Waltons, so I can't comment.

The show was surprisingly well done and not sentimental at all. The girl who played Meg March, Bhagyashree Patwardhan, went on to become a one-film celebrity.


message 12: by Bionic Jean (last edited Aug 08, 2017 04:02AM) (new) - added it

Bionic Jean A refreshing review Cecily! I fear it will not be for me, and found myself shouting at the famous Hollywood film within minutes!

However a film is not a book, and I only ever read this as a child (when it didn't appeal to me at all) so will give it another go. I like some "sensationalist" short stories by Louisa May Alcott, and this novel seems to be revered so by many Goodreads readers ...


Cecily Jean wrote: "A refreshing review Cecily! I fear it will not be for me, and found myself shouting at the famous Hollywood film within minutes!
However a film is not a book..."


Thanks, and I agree about the significance of changing medium. A film can be "true" to a book, to its spirit, even if it makes considerable changes to suit the switch.

I suspect that this story would be too saccharine for my tastes, regardless of whether it's on screen or page.


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