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The 100 Best Novels > Week 20 - Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

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message 1: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments Week 20 brings us Little Women(1868-9) by Louisa May Alcott

read the full article here


Gill | 5720 comments Oh, yes, I love this book.


message 3: by Marian (new)

Marian (Marian-xox) | 74 comments Hi there, I've been following some of the threads in this group, I'm new to goodreads and would live to join the session on little women. You say week 20, is that this week?


message 4: by Marian (new)

Marian (Marian-xox) | 74 comments *love


message 5: by Pink (new)

Pink I think I'm in the minority with my opinion for this one....didn't love.


Leslie | 15985 comments Pink wrote: "I think I'm in the minority with my opinion for this one....didn't love."

I suspect that you need to read this when young to really love it - otherwise Alcott's language can be a bit too preachy & sweet.

@Marian - This isn't a readalong, sorry if you hoped it was. We are following a series of articles in the British newspaper The Guardian in which Robert McCrumb picks the 100 Best Novels written in English.


Shirley | 4177 comments I loved it, but I haven't tried to read it as an adult - and if what Leslie says is true, I don't want to spoil my memory of it by re-reading now.


message 8: by Marian (new)

Marian (Marian-xox) | 74 comments @Leslie thank you, I figured as much after I clicked on the article and read it. No worries will read it in my own time. Do you know of any current readalongs that I could join though? Thanks


Beth | 508 comments I also loved this book soooooo much as a girl and read it numerous times. I don't feel the need to re-read it now but I remember the book perfectly and am happy to discuss it.


message 10: by Pink (new)

Pink Leslie wrote: "Pink wrote: "I think I'm in the minority with my opinion for this one....didn't love."

I suspect that you need to read this when young to really love it - otherwise Alcott's language can be a bit ..."


Agreed, I read this many years ago, but was probably in my late teens and not really feeling it.

Marian, we have a folder full of many read along challenges that you can join in with anytime, in addition to our group reads :)


message 11: by Marian (new)

Marian (Marian-xox) | 74 comments Thank you Pink, I will do that..still getting used to this lovely site. I remember finding the book when I was around 10yrs old...read the opening chapters then put it to the side. Always wanted to finish it and discover why my former self didn't! It's somewhere on my long list of books to read.


message 12: by Bionic Jean (new) - added it

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) I wonder if it makes a difference if you are American? (I'm English.)

I disliked it as a teenager and listened to an (admittedly abridged) version about a decade ago and still thought it twee. Sorry folks. I know it's very well loved by many.


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

I really love this. Enjoyed it as a child and more recently. Definitely agree with its inclusion in the list


Leslie | 15985 comments I loved it as a young girl and read it several times. Then I reread it in my late 20s/early 30s and disliked it - too twee to use Jean's phrase. I listened to it on audiobook last year and recaptured most of what I had loved so I am glad I gave it one more try after the disappointmenting experience.

I will say that even when I was disliking it, (view spoiler)


message 15: by Amber (new)

Amber (amberterminatorofgoodreads) That was a pretty good read!


message 16: by Gemma (new) - rated it 1 star

Gemma (gemmagem20) | 456 comments I really didn't enjoy this book either. Read as an adult do perhaps I missed out.


message 17: by LauraT (last edited Feb 04, 2014 12:47AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

LauraT (laurata) | 13415 comments Mod
Pink wrote: "I think I'm in the minority with my opinion for this one....didn't love."

Indeed you are!!! But I see not really alone here.
One of my favourite book ever, I started loving it as kid and still find it superb!!!! It is old, of course, it is moralizing, it is sugary, all this I know. But I still find the women there forerunners of feminists who, in the 60s, gave fire to bras ...
And not only Jo ...


LauraT (laurata) | 13415 comments Mod
Leslie wrote: "I loved it as a young girl and read it several times. Then I reread it in my late 20s/early 30s and disliked it - too twee to use Jean's phrase. I listened to it on audiobook last year and recapt..."

Still wetting the book there!!!!


message 19: by Cheryl (last edited Feb 04, 2014 02:58AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Cheryl Hall | 138 comments I read it as an adult for the first time too, to be honest I didn't really like it that much.

It was just far too preachy.

Having said that I did like Jo.


message 20: by Bionic Jean (last edited Feb 04, 2014 02:43AM) (new) - added it

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) How odd that this book divides opinions so! And very interesting too that it doesn't seem to be a national divide, as I had been wondering.

I also notice that no males have commented yet, although I do usually find that the book I rate highly can be read and enjoyed by all, irrespective of gender. I'm racking my brains to think of one which breaks this rule, but cannot! Some might be more favoured by one sex, but the "good" ones could surely be read and appreciated to some extent by either.

So where are the males? :D


message 21: by Gill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gill | 5720 comments When I was young Jo gave me hope that as a woman life could be what you want to make it. I think it's the book that had influenced me most.


LauraT (laurata) | 13415 comments Mod
Gill wrote: "When I was young Jo gave me hope that as a woman life could be what you want to make it. I think it's the book that had influenced me most."

That's what I meant ...


message 23: by Bionic Jean (last edited Feb 04, 2014 05:09AM) (new) - added it

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) I do like her short stories, sometimes called "tales of sensation" though. Like many women writers of her time, she wrote a lot of these "potboilers" which can be quite nasty. "The Chase" is one, (not the longer novel with a similar name) "A Double Tragedy" is another. They are often found in anthologies of Victorian women writers' ghost stories, chillers and so on.


message 24: by Bionic Jean (new) - added it

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) I found this entry in Wikipedia interesting:

In Little Women, Alcott based her heroine "Jo" on herself. But whereas Jo marries at the end of the story, Alcott remained single throughout her life. She explained her "spinsterhood" in an interview with Louise Chandler Moulton, "I am more than half-persuaded that I am a man's soul put by some freak of nature into a woman's body ... because I have fallen in love with so many pretty girls and never once the least bit with any man." However, Alcott's romance while in Europe with the young Polish man Ladislas "Laddie" Wisniewski was detailed in her journals but then deleted by Alcott herself before her death.[citation needed] Alcott identified Laddie as the model for Laurie in Little Women, and there is strong evidence this was the significant emotional relationship of her life.


message 25: by LauraT (last edited Feb 04, 2014 11:42AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

LauraT (laurata) | 13415 comments Mod
Sounds a bit lesbian, doesn't it?


message 26: by Bionic Jean (new) - added it

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) Definitely. Trapped within the confines of her time, I suspect. Very similar statements were made by Daphne du Maurier


message 27: by Gill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gill | 5720 comments Louisa Alcott's father was a transcendentalist and friendly withHenry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
To continue with fathers, March is a novel byGeraldine Brooks about the father of the four girls in Little Women (who was based on Alcott's father). I found March a good read.


message 28: by Bionic Jean (last edited Feb 05, 2014 02:21AM) (new) - added it

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) That does sound interesting, thanks Gill! I loved her Year of Wonders


message 29: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments 'March' is on my TBR anyhow, I guess adding 'Little Women would make for a good paired read.


message 30: by Pink (new)

Pink I've had March on my bookshelf since it came out, but have never felt compelled to read it, probably because I didn't enjoy Little Women. I'm planning to finally get around to it sometime this year though!


LauraT (laurata) | 13415 comments Mod
Jenny wrote: "'March' is on my TBR anyhow, I guess adding 'Little Women would make for a good paired read."

Good idea...


Shirley | 4177 comments This thread has been a bit of an eye opener for me! I think, because I enjoyed it when I read it as a child/teen, I expected everyone to like it!!


message 33: by Bionic Jean (new) - added it

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) You carry on and like what you want Shirley!! LOL

I was staggered to read someone in our group say long parts of Oliver Twist - a book I have read and loved many times were "UNREADABLE"! Not to me they're not! Thought of saying that on her thread but it seemed a bit mean, so I haven't... :D

I love how our likes differ so :)


Leslie | 15985 comments Jean wrote: "You carry on and like what you want Shirley!! LOL

I was staggered to read someone in our group say long parts of Oliver Twist - a book I have read and loved many times were "UNRE..."


I have a friend who thinks Dickens is the worst - I tried to get him to read A Tale of Two Cities and he replied that he had tried but it was too boring!! Ah well.


message 35: by Bionic Jean (new) - added it

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) Exactly :)


message 36: by Gill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gill | 5720 comments Shirley wrote: "This thread has been a bit of an eye opener for me! I think, because I enjoyed it when I read it as a child/teen, I expected everyone to like it!!"

To be honest, until this thread, I've never met anyone who didn't like the book.


LauraT (laurata) | 13415 comments Mod
Leslie wrote: "Jean wrote: "You carry on and like what you want Shirley!! LOL

I was staggered to read someone in our group say long parts of Oliver Twist - a book I have read and loved many tim..."


My son thinks almost exactly like this. The problem is that young people now re not used to long sentences and descriptions. I don't say long books - for some can be like this, but for istance my son loves Stephen King and has read It or 11/22/63 in very little time. But ing writes in a "modern" style: shorter sentences, gripping plot. Middlemarch or Oliver twist need patience to be discovered.


message 38: by Bionic Jean (last edited Feb 06, 2014 04:56AM) (new) - added it

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) Gill - does this include males? Nobody seems to have picked me up on that...


message 39: by Gill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gill | 5720 comments Jean wrote: "Gill - does this include males? Nobody seems to have picked me up on that..."

I don't know any men who have read it. I think when I was a child they were too busy with Just William and Kidnapped.


message 40: by Bionic Jean (new) - added it

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) But since you and I have probably both read those two books, (I love the "William" series!) it does sounds as though it is not a book which is read by boys or men.

So I stand by what I said in comment 20! Nearly all the books I rate highly can be read by either gender.


message 41: by Beth (new) - rated it 5 stars

Beth | 508 comments Gill wrote: "Shirley wrote: "This thread has been a bit of an eye opener for me! I think, because I enjoyed it when I read it as a child/teen, I expected everyone to like it!!"

To be honest, until this thread,..."



same here. But then again, I haven't read it in 20 years - maybe if I read it again I would feel differently - but I doubt it.


message 42: by Gill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gill | 5720 comments I picked up a Just William book once as a child and really disliked it. Each to their own!


message 43: by Bionic Jean (new) - added it

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) LOL Gill! If you had liked them you would love Martin Jarvis's readings of them, no doubt :)


message 44: by [deleted user] (new)

I loved Just William! 'I shall squeam and squeam until I'm sick'

The best books can be enjoyed by both genders


Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 11965 comments Mod
Hoping to read this soon.


message 46: by Amber (new)

Amber (amberterminatorofgoodreads) It's pretty good alannah and little men is good too.


Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 11965 comments Mod
Good news it's on my ibooks already. :) How long is the book Amber?


message 48: by Amber (new)

Amber (amberterminatorofgoodreads) I can't remember as I read it last year but little men was 266 pages in my ebook copy.


LauraT (laurata) | 13415 comments Mod
It goes on like a glass of pure water; don't bother about the lengh: after that you'll want to go on with good wives!


message 50: by Amber (new)

Amber (amberterminatorofgoodreads) I'm going to read Jo's Boys in the Summer as that is the last book in the Little Women trilogy after Little Men.


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