Little Women Christmas Read-a-long - 2018 discussion

Week 3 Discussion

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message 1: by Hannah (new)

Hannah (abibliophilesbooks) | 14 comments Mod
Alright, I think I'm back on track with this read-a-long again, as I am now including some discussion topics for last weeks chapters.

So, we have now finished the first part of ''Little Women," and we have read that final paragraph:

"So grouped, the curtain falls upon Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. Whether it ever rises again, depends upon the reception given to the first act of the domestic drama called 'Little Women.'"

I have always loved that final paragraph of the book, because it shows that Lousia May Alcott did not know of the grand success her book would have. Here's a little fun fact: Did you know that the final chapter n the firsts part, 'Aunt March Settles the Question,' was actually added lat minute. The book was supposed to end in the previous chapter, with Beth's singing, but Alcott's publisher wanted her to leave the story open for a second novel, in the case that it was a success. Something I find interesting.

1. In this week's chapters, we find that Beth nearly leaves the March sisters behind, after contracting scarlet fever. In real life, both Betty (Beth's inspiration) and May (Amy's inspiration) caught the fever, but Betty had it far worse than May, May recovering completely. Beth's symptoms of delirium more closely relate to those Alcott had when she returned from being a nurse in the Army. She was given a compound containing mercury, and this caused her to lose her hair (just as Jo cuts her hair, Alcott lost hers, adding just another event that actually occurred in her life to her story), and when she arrived home, caused her to have delirious bouts. Very interesting tidbit, I think.

2. The girls' father is brought home in the last part of the book, but Alcott's father never served in the military, being too old when the Civil War started. As soon as she turned 30, however, Alcott herself enlisted as nurse in the United States Army of the Potomac. Since she. couldn't fight, she treated the poor soldiers who did their duty. For someone who was in the Navy (though I was medically discharged), I thought this was interesting, because thought I knew she was a nurse, I didn't know that she was actually in the military.

3. Meg discovers love and begins to notice John Brooke as more than a friend. She is bid to wait three years to be married, and does that duty patiently, while John joins the Army, and tries to earn her a home and a living. I don't know about you, but I don't think I could get engaged and wait three years to get married. Just something that's always irked me, because I must be one of the most impatient people in the world. What do you think of Meg's long engagement?

Ok, you all know the drill. If you have anything to add, feel free to add it in the comments! Hope you are all enjoying yourselves so far, and I apologize for kind of forgetting about the discussion last week!

This coming week we will be reading Chapters 1-8 of 'Good Wives.'

(Also, it is finally December, I'm so excited!)

message 2: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 3 comments I like Meg's long engagement. John has to prove himself and Meg has to mature a bit. Like Jo I don't like change and if I was as close to my sister as Jo is to Meg I'd be waiting and hoping Meg would change her mind!

The drama over Beth's scarlet fever is always the one thing people remember from the book. They misremember and think that's when she dies. That section is so very Victorian in nature- patient Beth bearing her illness and the sentimental sisters weeping and caring for their sister. They think possibly Mrs. Alcott brought home some germ from visiting the slums of Boston. Abigail Alcott was one of the first paid social workers in Massachusetts. They don't really seem to know what Lizzie died from. The tour guides say some kind of wasting disease. In the novel it seems like the fever damaged Beth's heart.

Louisa wasn't a nurse for very long. She was sent to Georgetown which was not yet part of Washington, DC. She contracted typhoid and her father had to come get her and bring her home. She was given calomel, which contains mercury, and she suffered mercury poisoning for the rest of her life. Louisa would have preferred to run off and join the army but it would have brought shame to her already outcast family if she ran off disguised as a boy. She couldn't bring her fictional alter ego to do it either. I bet the book never would have been published if she had.

message 3: by Hannah (new)

Hannah (abibliophilesbooks) | 14 comments Mod
Krista wrote: "I'm so thankful I reread this! Thanks for having this group. Sorry I wasn't a little more active, as I got really busy with schooling. My husband read for the first time! He enjoyed it too."

I'm so glad you enjoyed it! I wasn't at all active, like I should've been, but I finished the book on Friday and watched the movie last night! Such a enjoyable time! Thanks to all who participated!

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