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Group Read Discussions > Little Women - Spoilers

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message 1: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (tnbbc) | 10060 comments Mod
Go ahead, tell us everything!


message 2: by LaTrica (new)

LaTrica | 49 comments I liked this book more than I expected. However, I still don't understand why Jo and Laurence didn't marry. I know the rationalization but it wasn't previously displayed so it feels artificial.


message 3: by Lauren (new)

Lauren (lmorris) | 91 comments I just finished this about 3 weeks ago and it was the first time I'd read it. I really enjoyed the closeness of the family and how each of them developed and matured while maintaining the uniqueness of their personalities and interests. this book has been criticized (now, probably not when it was written) as too preachy but I found the writing style refreshing.

LaTricia, I could be wrong, I know little of literature and the period this was written, but I think people thought more about who they married and married not just based on feeling (this was marriage for the long haul not "starter marriages", to borrow a phrase I've read in pop culture mags). The position was that love was work and the feeling is good but not what sustains the marriage long term. Jo and Laurie had a genuine affection for each other but what they wanted out of life would have pulled them in opposite directions and one of them would have had to give in what their dreams were.


message 4: by Hayes (new)

Hayes (hayes13) Nicely put, Lauren. And I like the phrase "starter marriages", which I had never heard before.


message 5: by Carol (new)

Carol I really liked the Mother in this book. She gave her daughters the love and confidence to step forward in this world and to realize the difference between wants and true dreams. Each girl did not dissappoint their parents, even little Beth who was too fragile for the world ,met her destiny with bravery and compassion for others. A truly remarkable book for love ,charity,hope and compassion. I laughed ,cried and cheered each of them on across the pages. Not only were they their father's little women , they were very remarkable women. I think Louisa Alcott had captured the essence of young womanhood at that time and many of a young girl was compelled to greater heights through her book. Even today there are life lesson we can all learn from her story. Even Aunt March had some redeeming qualities that were uncovered. hehehe.



message 6: by LaTrica (new)

LaTrica | 49 comments Lauren wrote: "I just finished this about 3 weeks ago and it was the first time I'd read it. I really enjoyed the closeness of the family and how each of them developed and matured while maintaining the uniquenes..."

I felt that Alcott wanted to make that point about Laurie and Jo but it seemed to come out of nowhere. I never got the impression that their desires diverged in such a manner as to become a problem later in life.


message 7: by Joanie (new)

Joanie | 714 comments I have to admit that I did not enjoy this book as much as I'd hoped. I liked the beginning but lost interest when the story shifts after Meg's wedding. I now know why I never got past that part when I was younger.

I was bummed about Jo and Laurie too but my thought was more that she just didn't love him "that way"-something we see over and over again in books and movies today. They were friends and she didn't have romantic feelings for him. Of course I keep picturing Christian Bale as Laurie and wonder how that could be possible but that's just me!


message 8: by Carol (new)

Carol Joanie wrote: "I have to admit that I did not enjoy this book as much as I'd hoped. I liked the beginning but lost interest when the story shifts after Meg's wedding. I now know why I never got past that part wh..."

oooh yeah. He would make a great Laurie or how about Hugh Jackman. yum yum


message 9: by Rachel Lee (new)

Rachel Lee (rlcwt9) | 71 comments Joanie wrote: "I have to admit that I did not enjoy this book as much as I'd hoped. I liked the beginning but lost interest when the story shifts after Meg's wedding. I now know why I never got past that part wh..."

I loved that movie when I was younger. It was awesome and Christian Bale was great as Laurie!




message 10: by LaTrica (new)

LaTrica | 49 comments Joanie wrote: "I have to admit that I did not enjoy this book as much as I'd hoped. I liked the beginning but lost interest when the story shifts after Meg's wedding. I now know why I never got past that part wh..."


I could believe that Jo just didn't love him in that manner. So I was a little confused when her mother tried to make it into a problem of personalities clashing.



message 11: by Liz (new)

Liz (arcanepenguin) | 285 comments LaTrica wrote: I could believe that Jo just didn't love him in that manner. So I was a little confused when her mother tried to make it into a problem of personalities clashing..."

I've read this book many times over the years, and I never really questioned why Jo and Laurie never became a couple. I always thought of their relationship as more brother and sisterly, rather than romantic.

As far as her mother taking the view of clashing personalities, I think it is a reflection of the culture at the time. Women were still expected to marry for wealth and position, rather than love. The comment about clashing personalities, may have been away to show how the family rationalized Jo's decision and accepted it, rather than forcing her to marry into wealth and status.




message 12: by Lisa (new)

Lisa I always thought that Jo felt of Laurie as her very dearest friend and that he had felt the same way for most of the time until he got older. She had very definite opinions about what she wanted to do and it really didn't suit the wife of a wealthy man. In the end, they were able to maintain their friendship and find people that better suited them for marriage.


message 13: by Alicia (new)

Alicia (diva2416) I finished this book about a month ago. I had seen the movie a ton of times when I was a kid but finally got around to reading it.

I did like the lessons they tried to teach and the end of the chapters. I usually find some of that a little corny but in the beginning chapters I enjoyed it. I think it would be a great book to have a young girl read.

I loved the almost last chapter with Jo under the umbrella, but the last chapter was a little too overkill for me.

I get why Jo and Laurie do not get together, but it does bug me that Amy and Laurie get together. Maybe it is because I just see Laurie trading in one sister for another.....I am not sure but something about that match just doesn't sit well with me.


message 14: by Denise (new)

Denise I love Little Women. I don't even know how many times I have read this book since I was a child (and that is a half century ago!). Louisa May is one of my all time favorite authors. In fact, I have two of her books in my "read soon" pile--i.e. they are library books that have to go back in a given period of time. :-) (The two books that I am soon to read are A Long Fatal Love Chase and Work A Story of Experience.)

But, back to Little Women. I have seen several different versions of the movie and to me none of them compare to the book. Next to Gone With The Wind, Little Women is probably my second all time favorite book.

Every time I re-read LW I so want it to have changed and Jo and Laurie to get married. I absolutely hate Laurie and Amy as a couple. I know that LMA patterned Jo after herself. Of course, Louisa May never married. I do not see the Professor Bhaer character as Jo's husband. I believe that she profiled her father in the Professor Bhaer character. Louisa took care of her father until he died and then she died just two days later. Jung would have said that Louisa May had an Electra Complex (for those that aren't familiar: The Electra complex is the psychoanalytic theory that a female's psychosexual development involves a sexual attachment to her father, and is analogous to a boy's attachment to his mother that forms the basis of the Oedipus complex. Jung coined the phrase in 1913 but of course Louisa May died in 1888.)




message 15: by LaTrica (new)

LaTrica | 49 comments Denise wrote: "I love Little Women. I don't even know how many times I have read this book since I was a child (and that is a half century ago!). Louisa May is one of my all time favorite authors. In ..."

I read A Long Fatal Love Chase and loved it! I'm also looking into her other books. Apparently Little Women goes on.

I didn't pay much attention to Laurie and Amy as a couple. Just seemed to be a way to tie up loose ends.

I also enjoyed the lessons with the chapters. My favorite was Meg's about marriage and raising children. I still see women trying to be absolutely perfect and killing their joy in the attempt.


message 16: by Denise (new)

Denise Regarding a continuation of Little Women: Originally Little Women was written in two parts and then combined into one book.I found the following information on Wikipedia: "Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women during 1867 and early 1868, writing furiously for two and a half months. She drew heavily on her experiences growing up with her three sisters in Boston, Massachusetts and Concord, Massachusetts.[1:] The novel was first published on September 30, 1868, and became an overnight success, selling over 2000 copies. The critical reception was also overwhelmingly positive; critics soon began calling the new novel a classic. Readers clamoured for a second volume that would bring about a marriage between the main character Jo, and her childhood friend, Laurie. Alcott received many letters and even visitors at her Concord home, asking for a sequel.

In response to this demand, Alcott wrote a second part, entitled Good Wives, which was published in 1869. The second part picks up three years after the events in the last chapter of the first part ("Aunt March Settles The Question"). Both parts were eventually called Little Women or Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. While resisting the popular demand to see Jo and Laurie wed, Alcott did write marriages for three of the March sisters. In 1880, the two parts were combined into one volume, and have been published as such in the United States ever since. Alcott followed Little Women at intervals with two novels that reprised the March sisters, Little Men (1871) and Jo's Boys (1886) which followed the lives of the girls' children."

I also found the following information interesting and along the lines that I have often thought (also from Wikipedia): "Alcott later wrote, 'Jo should have remained a literary spinster, but so many enthusiastic young ladies wrote to me clamorously demanding that she should marry Laurie, or somebody, that I didn't dare refuse and out of perversity went and made a funny match for her'".

Wikipedia has a nice analysis of the characters in Little Women. Here is the link to the article:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_W...

Also here is a link to Louisa May's other works:

http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/ALC...





message 17: by Meghan (new)

Meghan Denise, thanks for the background. That makes so much sense since it always felt like two books!

I've read this book since I was 8 year olds. And as an adult, I try to read it at least once a year. To me, it's like visiting family. I related to Laurie because I too wanted to be part of the March family.

I grew up as an only child so to me the idea of having four sisters was rather beyond imagining. But I had always hoped that this is what it would be like. Jo is my favorite character with Marmee a close second.

I liked all the movies, but the most recent one is my favorite. I think it's mainly because of the actors chosen. And yes, Christian Bale makes a very fine Laurie indeed. (Although I think Beth was horribly cast, no offense to the actress, I just didn't think she looked the part.)


message 18: by Meghan (new)

Meghan To all of you who thought Jo and Laurie should have gotten married...well, I can understand it. But I totally disagree with you.

They made a great pair as children, but as adults they were terribly ill-suited for each other. Try to keep in mind that Laurie does come from a MUCH different tax-bracket than the Marches. He is the upper crust of society, which have strict rules of behavior for deportment and manners. Jo, while she could behave beautifully when she put her mind to it, would have chafed terribly under such rigidity. Her free spirit would have caused many problems (which she knew and foresaw) and because Laurie loved her, he would forgive them, cover them up, etc. But they would diminish her in his eyes.

And I also think that while Jo loved him like a brother, she wasn't IN love with him. Laurie didn't appreciate learning and books and writing the way Jo did. He wouldn't have been able to encourage her intellectually the way she needed. (You may also want to keep in mind that Jo is somewhat written after Lousia herself.)


message 19: by Meghan (new)

Meghan Oh, and if you did like this book, I highly recommend Little Men and Eight Cousins, which are continuations of Jo's story.


message 20: by Meghan (new)

Meghan Oh, and while I am ALWAYS sad when the first "book" ends, I've come to really appreciate it. Everyone's childhood ends and then adulthood begins. And we look back on our youth and are sad in some ways for all that we lost. I sort of think of my turning 30. It didn't bother me when I turned 30. But later, I realized my 20s were officially gone and somehow I crossed some line that I could never go back.

But we are eager to move forward too. (And I've come to greatly appreciate my 30s and thank all that is good that I don't have to remain in my 20s forever.)And such is the second book. It may not be "as good" as the first--the sisters are scattered and Beth dies. But all the adventures they have are still in keeping with their characters.

Meg's struggles with living within her means. Jo's struggles with making money versus being a good writer. Amy's struggles with knowing who she is at her core and her desires (she will make a good match vs the good girl Marmee raised). These are universal struggles that no matter what time period we're in, we can still relate to.

I always feel like I'm being reminded of my values after reading this without being preached to. Marmee has her ways.


message 21: by Carol (new)

Carol Can we escape being our mother's daughters? I don't think so. Marmee and the girls have an idyllic relationship that we as women strive for with our families. I know I grew up with three sisters, so we always aligned ourselves with Little Women. Our Mother was our mainstay and constant in our family. I think that is why I derive such pleasure from Marmee's parenting style. I have over the years assigned the characters to each of my sisters.
Re-reading Little Women has given me warm fuzzies for my sissy's.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 1736 comments Eight Cousins is one of my favorite Alcotts, but not a part of the sisters' story; it's independent (and has a sequel, Rose in Bloom).


message 23: by Denise (new)

Denise Meghan wrote: I've read this book since I was 8 year olds. And as an adult, I try to read it at least once a year. To me, it's like visiting family. I related to Laurie because I too wanted to be part of the March family.

I grew up as an only child so to me the idea of having four sisters was rather beyond imagining. But I had always hoped that this is what it would be like. Jo is my favorite character with Marmee a close second...."


Meghan: I also grew up as an only child, I was adopted and found my biological family when I was in my mid-twenties. Getting siblings when in your twenties is not like having them as you are growing up, I can tell from having watched my own children growing up together. Little Women is a very idealistic view of family life (or perhaps it really was that way in "the olden days" as The Little House Collection was similarly portrayed. Or on TV watching the Cartwright boys on Bonanza...)

I guess I sought out books like Little Women and Bobbsey Twins 01 because I grew up alone with no one to play with. I do know that I always pictured myself as Jo, certainly not any of the others and especially not Amy.


message 24: by Denise (new)

Denise Meghan wrote: "To all of you who thought Jo and Laurie should have gotten married...well, I can understand it. But I totally disagree with you.

They made a great pair as children, but as adults they were terri...Try to keep in mind that Laurie does come from a MUCH different tax-bracket than the Marches."


Was Amy in a different tax bracket than Jo????




message 25: by Steven (new)

Steven | 4 comments I agree with Meghan that the match for Laurie and Amy was better than Lo and Laurie.

Yes, Amy was in the same tax bracket as Jo, but every time she is described in the books she is clearly a high maintenance personality. Always wanting things to be pretty and perfect. Amy's personality takes more interest in having fine things, looking perfect, putting on the proper social graces, etc. Jo is able to dress well and act well at times, but once to door closes on the public she wants to put her hair down and relax.

Jo could follow the rules of proper society for quite a while, but eventually she'd screw up in public and embarrass Laurie. Laurie would forgive her, but Jo wouldn't forgive herself. Because, Jo would feel that she let down Laurie by not being his 'perfect' wife. Jo can't end up with Laurie for just that reason.

Amy already tries to act like she is part of proper society all the time. So it's not so difficult for her to take up the marriage.

I do agree that it feels like Laurie gives up on his perfect women, Jo, and sort of takes the next best offer in Amy. But, later books show that Laurie and Amy seem to get along and do cherish their relationship, so I rationalize that they grow into the marriage.



message 26: by Meghan (new)

Meghan Steven wrote: "I agree with Meghan that the match for Laurie and Amy was better than Lo and Laurie.

Yes, Amy was in the same tax bracket as Jo, but every time she is described in the books she is clearly a high ..."


I think it's hard for some to picture Laurie with Amy because for half the book we know Amy as only a little girl. But Amy was grooming herself to be a lady of "refinement". While she wasn't above her sisters, she also knew she didn't want Meg's life either. Love was grand, but being hungry and not having nice things was something she refused to live without if there was a way for her to get it.

But I think Laurie thought he ought to marry Jo because they were best friends and he so desperately wanted to be part of that family. But given time and distance, I think he knew Jo was right. And once he got over his romantic love for Jo, he was able to see what Amy had to offer. And could grow to love her beyond being a "little" kid sister.


message 27: by Meghan (new)

Meghan Does anyone else remember the Friends episode where Joey and Rachel trade books? Rachel reads The Shining and Joey reads her favorite book, Little Women. Joey was known for putting The Shining in the freezer when he got to the super scary parts. And at the end of the episode, he looks so upset and Rachel asks him what's wrong. And he asks her if Beth is really going to die. And Rachel asks him if he wants to put the book in the freezer. And Joey nods.

I don't know why, but that episode always makes me laugh and I always think of that episode whenever I think of Little Women.


message 28: by Meghan (new)

Meghan Denise - I was adopted too! And yes, I wanted to be part of the Ingalls clan as well. I didn't necessarily want sisters (I had enough friends with sibblings to know they're not good to have 24-7 growing up), but I love how there is that ingrown best friendship that comes with having sisters. I think I wanted more of a best friend who was like a sister than an actual sister. Fortunately friends you can choose, sisters...not so much. heh


message 29: by Lydia (new)

Lydia (loverofinformation) Liz wrote: "LaTrica wrote: I could believe that Jo just didn't love him in that manner. So I was a little confused when her mother tried to make it into a problem of personalities clashing..."

I've read this ..."


Liz, read Jo's Boys and you really get a great feel for the relationship with Laurie!


message 30: by Carol (new)

Carol Meghan wrote: "Does anyone else remember the Friends episode where Joey and Rachel trade books? Rachel reads The Shining and Joey reads her favorite book, Little Women. Joey was known for putting The..."

Joey was a sensitive kind of guy. How sweet



message 31: by Joanie (new)

Joanie | 714 comments Meghan wrote: "Does anyone else remember the Friends episode where Joey and Rachel trade books? Rachel reads The Shining and Joey reads her favorite book, Little Women. Joey was known for putting The..."

LOL Meghan! I think we talked about that in the voting thread actually. I love that episode!


message 32: by Liz (new)

Liz (arcanepenguin) | 285 comments Lydia wrote: "Liz, read Jo's Boys and you really get a great feel for the relationship with Laurie! "

I've read both books many times. I wasn't really referring to the events beyond Little Women. Jo and Laurie were friends and the problem wasn't clashing personalities. I do believe that while accepting Jo's decision not to marry Laurie would be part of Mrs. March's character, something needed to be rationalized toward the greater culture of the time.


message 33: by Edith (new)

Edith | 256 comments Meghan wrote: "Does anyone else remember the Friends episode where Joey and Rachel trade books? Rachel reads The Shining and Joey reads her favorite book, Little Women. Joey was known for putting The..."

I loved that episode. The best part is when they start spoiling the books for each other!


message 34: by Lydia (new)

Lydia (loverofinformation) Liz wrote: "Lydia wrote: "Liz, read Jo's Boys and you really get a great feel for the relationship with Laurie! "

I've read both books many times. I wasn't really referring to the events beyond Little Women...."


I can see that, Liz!


message 35: by KarenLee (new)

KarenLee I'm rereading Little Women and enjoying it immensely. I believe I first read it at about 11 or 12 and have read several times since then. My husband enjoys working on his genealogy, and we get the family tree magazine. The latest issue has a questionnaire regarding Louisa May Alcott's family tree.

Question 1: Alcott shared a birthday with:
a. Aunt Jo
b. eight cousins
c. her uncle Chatfield
d. her father
e. Abraham Lincoln

There are a total of 10 questions and I knew the answers to only 5! And I consider myself a fan. I'd be glad to post the other questions (and answers) if anyone's interested.

Karen


The Romance Reviews (Carole) (The_Romance_Reviews) | 15 comments I love love love this book. I read it about once a year when I was growing up. Now the book is brown at the edges... and I think I'll get a new copy. :)


message 37: by Angie (new)

Angie It took me three weeks to finish this book which is a really long time for me. I guess that I just wasn't that into this book. It finally started to interest me in part two.

One of the things I thought was strange was the build up of the relationship between Jo and Laurie and then she lets him down. So I guess what I didn't understand about Jo not ended up with Laurie was because it seemed to me the whole novel built it up as if that is what was to happen. I also thought it a little strange that Laurie would move from one sister to another. Personally if I was Amy I would think it a little weird to know my husband once was so in love with my sister and even asked her to marry him. But I guess with the times it was appropriate to ask another family member. I do think Amy and Laurie are a good match which is why I wish the book would've focused more on them. It is like they spent a month together abroad and then got married. CRAZY!

One thing I always thought about while reading was if they are so poor as a family how can they afford Hannah? With five other people in the house I am sure they could've done the chores themselves. I also didn't like how Jo stopped writing because she thought her stories didn't have morals in them. I didn't like how the author makes it seem like the only good and right stories out there have to have morals. Meg's incident with her husband was a bit off to me... I thought he should be at home helping her with twins rather than leaving her there alone and going off to his friends house. That was a big sign to me of the times this book was written.

Is the book Little Men as long as the book Little Women?

Overall I didn't enjoy the beginning of the book but I did enjoy the second part. It is not a book I would re-read. I thought it was a little long, some parts were just a little boring. We never really found out what happened to the dad if I remember correctly. That bothered me. I think maybe if this is one of the books I had read as a child the book may have different meaning to me.


message 38: by El (new)

El Angie, from what I understand of Alcott, she didn't want Jo to marry anyone at all. She just wanted her to be single her entire life. But the public wanted Jo to marry - specifically Laurie - so Alcott found a different match for Jo. She compromised, like saying, "Okay, Jo will marry, but she's going to marry this funny German guy." Like out of spite to the public, I think.

Interesting point about Hannah. I guess I always viewed her presence as the Marches made it their life goal to be good to people less fortunate than themselves. Hannah was always very loyal to them that I think this was the family's way of remaining loyal to her. She was considered part of the family, and letting her go was probably not even considered an option.

Jo's writing was a contradiction, just like she was. She was very conflicted in how to behave - she was a tomboy, but wanted to be considered "good", as girls were to expected to be at that time. This is reflected in her writing - she loved to write dark stories, but society was not prepared for that from the pen of a woman.

As far as morals, remember the Alcotts were transcendentalists, which, as Jo points out (at least in the movie; it's been years since I've read the book) requires a certain degree of improving oneself constantly. Stories with morals would have fit that requirement absolutely.

As for the father - eh, he was sort of not important in the grand scheme of things. He was important as far as to show that the family's destitution came about as a result of his actions, but the story was meant to be about the women. I understand Alcott's own father was rather stern and the relationship between Louisa and her father was a rather strange one. I think that explains why she chose to leave him out of her story. I did always find it interesting that Alcott made Jo's father a chaplain in the Union Army when in reality Alcott's father was a strict pacifist. It was like she was embarrassed of her real father's beliefs, and wanted to write a father with more balls or something. Just a thought.


message 39: by Angie (new)

Angie Interesting about the father. I need to read more about the Alcotts. Is there a book out there?


message 40: by LaTrica (new)

LaTrica | 49 comments Angie wrote: "It took me three weeks to finish this book which is a really long time for me. I guess that I just wasn't that into this book. It finally started to interest me in part two.

One of the things I th..."


I actually found Meg's problems with her husband to be very realistic for first time mothers and wives who want to be "perfect". I read it as her wanting to do everything and sort of pushing/allowing him to do nothing. This fell apart and she learned it's okay and actually necessary for the husband/father to be involved. At least that was my reading.


message 41: by Charity (new)

Charity (charityross) Interesting about the father. I need to read more about the Alcotts. Is there a book out there?

Try Eden's Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father ...it even won the Pulitzer for Biography in 2008.


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