By: Louisa May Alcott
Review By: Alex Frank
Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March are all sisters who come from a poor family in the time of the American Civil War. Meg, the eldest, remembers a time when her family used to have money, but, in an attempt to help their father’s friend, Mr. March lost their estate. All the girls must now work to help pay the bills and cover the expenses of the family while their father goes off to fight in the war. Meg and Amy wish to live a finer life while Jo and Beth are content with their lives as they live them. One day, Jo notices a young man sitting and looking out of his window in the house next door appearing very lonely and bored. She decides to go pay him a visit and the two soon become fast friends. This young gentleman who goes by the name of Laurie and his grandfather, Mr. Laurence, soon become a part of the young March family and all help each other when in need. Though the Laurences are rich and the Marches poor, they do not let that color their relationship. This story follows the young women as they grow from young ladies into womanhood and try to find not only romance but themselves in their brave new world.
I feel I must begin by stating that I wasn’t sure if I should write book reviews for classic novels. I am not an English or Lit major. I have no background whatsoever in trying to critique works which have been so highly regarded as to be considered “classics” in the first place. I am but one person who reads books and claims to have an opinion about them. My book review will not sounds like I’m giving a dissertation or writing a paper for an English class. I will not be looking into it that thoroughly, but merely wish to state, in plain words, how I feel about this particular work. You may agree with it. You may take it with a grain of salt. Either way, it’s entirely up to you, and this work will still be a classic regardless of my opinion.
Other than a handful of books, which I was forced to read for high school English, I dare say my familiarity with “classic” novels is lacking. I am working to change that. This past week I decided to sit down and read a copy of Little Women. I had seen a movie adaptation of this novel some years back and remember thinking how sad and wonderful I thought it was. Big surprise, the novel was even better than the movie. Bet no one saw that coming.
I did not realize that the chapters traded between focusing on each of the little women (Marmee, Jo, Beth, Amy, and Meg) individually. I really enjoyed this set up because it kept the story from seeming like one continuous narration. I felt this novel was more like a bunch of shorter stories put together that spanned the course of several years. There was also a break in the book between part one and part two where three years pass. This helps with the transition from the girls being girls to them becoming fine young women.
Each chapter was also wonderful because it seemed like each held a different moral. Jo, Beth, Amy, and Meg always had different problems that they were trying to deal with and each chapter focused on a different one. Their mother (known in the novel as Marmee) would step in and tell them how they could fix their problem through a moral lesson. I felt like this book was trying to teach me how to be a proper lady as much as it was focusing on teaching the fictional characters. I’ve never seen a book do this so well or be so “in your face” about it, yet makes me want to keep reading it all the more. I felt like the book had something to teach me. A many great somethings.
I will not lie by saying this book was incredibly easy to begin reading. It wasn’t simply because I wasn’t used to the way that the characters spoke and the diction with which this book was written. The setting was during the Civil War after all, so it took me a bit to wrap my mind around everything in the world of the book. However, once I got used to the language, I couldn’t stop reading it. I loved the characters so much because they want you to love them so badly. They were precious and innocent and I couldn’t help but have tender affections for them whether they where in a good position or bad. Very few novels make me cry and laugh with the characters and smile all the time when they talk to one another. Those young women made me feel like I had become a part of their family even though they weren’t real.
And I enjoyed the way in which we get a third person omniscient perspective for all of them because we, as the reader, can see how each character reacts to one another and why. I feel like most of the time in a novel we just get stuck with one person and how they view the world rather than how everyone else views them and how they interact with the world.
This novel was definitely a change of pace and one that warmed my heart through and through. I can’t wait to begin reading more classics to see if all the rest of them make me feel as good as this one does. Please read Little Women if you haven’t already. It’s so worth it.
Overall rating: 5