Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Little Women - Louisa May Alcott

"'If we are all alive ten years hence, let's meet, and see how many of us have got our wishes, or how much nearer we are then than now,' said Jo, always ready with a plan."

Josephine March is a headstrong tomboy. She, along with her three sisters, Meg, Beth and Amy struggle through the hardships of being young women and make do with an absent father and little money during the American Civil War. They are much comforted by the friendship of their neighbour 'Teddy' Laurence though. And they all have dreams: Jo wants to be a writer, Meg wants to marry and have pretty things, Amy wishes to marry rich and fix her nose and Beth wants to take care of everyone. As they grow up they face the trials of love, marriage and loss, including the formidable Aunt March and gruff Mr. Laurence Sr.

I had seen three movie adaptations before reading the book so I was well aware of the plot and characters and knew what to expect. Jo is the main focus of the story, serving as a stand in for Louisa May Alcott as the book is loosely based upon her own childhood. Jo is a strong character with her own convictions and her more modern sensibilities allow readers to connect with her. That being said, some of the dialogue and attitudes of other characters are archaic with the book being set 150 years in the past.

I enjoyed the fact that each sister was given equal time and developement withint the book and emerged as individuals. While some of their antics seemed ridiculous such as Amy's obsession with pickled limes (ew), her behaviour when it came to trying to fit in and impress her peers was completely believable.

The vivid descriptions are few and far between in this book but my favourite by far was this. "A Russian prince condescended to sit in a corner for an hour and talk with a massive lady, dressed like Hamlet's mother in black velvet with a pearl bridle under her chin." I couldn't help but smile imagining a langourous prince talking to Gertrude.

Overall I found this book a slog to get through which was unfortunate. I found it long and tedious. A main frustration came from reading 200 or so odd pages and believing I was finished the book. It turned out the book was split into two parts, the second part being called "Good Wives" as Alcott was unsure of how part one would do. As well, while I can appreciate that Mrs. March wanted her daughters to be happy and marry for love I found it difficult to believe some of the advice that she gave Jo in matters of love. Also, I wasn't sure I understood what was going on with Beth towards the end of the book. What were her motivations? Strangely enough I found that I liked the movie adaptations better, the 1949 version specifically.

Rating: 2.5/5

No comments: