Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Little Women

Following the lives of four sisters on a journey out of adolescence, Louisa May Alcott's Little Women explores the difficulties associated with gender roles in a Post-Civil War America....

Title:Little Women
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Edition Language:English

Little Women Reviews

  • Rory

    I hated this book.

    I can't even begin to go into all the reasons I dislike this novel. It's dull and preachy through out most of it--aside from Jo who is a truly inspired character. But everyone else seems one note, most of the chapters come off as morality plays than solid scenes or plots. And just when Miss Alcott has something seemingly interesting she breaks it for no other reason than to do something.

    Whether its the pairing of Amy and Laurie (huh?), the point made CONSTANTLY that Beth's life

    I hated this book.

    I can't even begin to go into all the reasons I dislike this novel. It's dull and preachy through out most of it--aside from Jo who is a truly inspired character. But everyone else seems one note, most of the chapters come off as morality plays than solid scenes or plots. And just when Miss Alcott has something seemingly interesting she breaks it for no other reason than to do something.

    Whether its the pairing of Amy and Laurie (huh?), the point made CONSTANTLY that Beth's life isn't useless because she is an angel and showed them that angels do exist and is a total Mary Sue(Really? Cause I'm glad she died before I died of boredom), the forced pairing of Jo and the Professor (Why? I mean--really... Just keep her single) there is also the message that pursing art is selfish. (Jo giving up her writing, Laurie gives up his music, Amy gives up her sketching...)

    It's not a message I expected--this book is always lauded as one that has inspired countless girls... To do what? Because outside of Jo's sipirt I dont really see much to aspire to in this tsory? The overall message seems to be that as a good Christian one should sacrifice being an artist, being in love with who you want and any hope of independence...

    It's not because I'm from the modern era that I dislike this book. (Or that I'm an adult reading it.) If you look at other works being done in the same time period you will see that there were stories with less moralizing being done--including by Miss Alcott herself. I was just really disappointed

  • Dottie

    My copy of this is probably 55 years old -- I've probably read it at least twenty-five times. One of my all-time favorite books. One of my favorite authors ever. Yes, it is old-fashioned -- it was old-fashioned fifty-five years ago. But that is the point pretty much in my opinion. This is a story of times past, of a family which functioned in a particular way in a particular time. This is also a story of what one person in a family might have wished were so all of the time in the family but wasn

    My copy of this is probably 55 years old -- I've probably read it at least twenty-five times. One of my all-time favorite books. One of my favorite authors ever. Yes, it is old-fashioned -- it was old-fashioned fifty-five years ago. But that is the point pretty much in my opinion. This is a story of times past, of a family which functioned in a particular way in a particular time. This is also a story of what one person in a family might have wished were so all of the time in the family but wasn't. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    Nov 2008/Dec 2008 rereading for the ??th time. Reading my Centennial Edition -- priced at $5.95 in 1968 -- pretty amusing that. I believe I bought this book second hand which surprises me as I thought I'd splurged and bought it the minute it was out -- perhaps in a fit of being good, I'd refrained and later bought this used copy to appease my Little Woman penchant retroactively.

    Only 156 pages in and I'm as thoroughly hooked as always. Something peaceful about this story, speaks to me in a very profound manner. A bit of treacle is apparent but the story's truths are also as apparent as ever.

  • Susan

    Someone I know claimed this no longer has value, that she would never recommend it because it's saccharine, has a religious agenda, and sends a bad message to girls that they should all be little domestic homebodies. I say she's wrong on all counts. This is high on my reread list along with Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, and a Tree Grows in Brooklyn--you could say that I'm pretty familiar with it.

    Let's see--there's a heroine who not only writes, but is proud of the fact and makes a profit from

    Someone I know claimed this no longer has value, that she would never recommend it because it's saccharine, has a religious agenda, and sends a bad message to girls that they should all be little domestic homebodies. I say she's wrong on all counts. This is high on my reread list along with Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, and a Tree Grows in Brooklyn--you could say that I'm pretty familiar with it.

    Let's see--there's a heroine who not only writes, but is proud of the fact and makes a profit from it in a time that this was somewhat out-of-the-ordinary. Reading this, and especially knowing later that the main character is (for all practical purposes) Alcott herself, inspired me to write myself, and I haven't forgotten the writing lessons even today: don't let money cloud your vision, write for yourself first, take criticism, write what you know. Still wise even today. Also in this book, we see the perspective of a family coping with the financial and emotional strain of having a loved one away at war, something that is unfortunately all too relatable today. There's also (extraordinary in those times, common in ours)a platonic, though not uncomplicated, friendship between a man and a woman that is sort of a different kind of love story in a way and a powerful one at that. We see people getting married, but marriage is never portrayed as The Answer to Everything--many of the matches involve sacrifice and struggling. The girls, though good at heart, aren't a picture-perfect family of saints. They're flawed and human. The paragon Beth would seem the exception, but the message with her is more about how even the quietest among us can make an impact on the world--not parading her isolated life as an example, only her kindness.

    I won't lie. Someone dies, there's a war and a father's away--so yes, God is mentioned: I think there's a few Pilgrim's Progress references in passing and there's some talk of faith at moments when the characters most need it. To contemporary readers, this may seem like a lot, but heavy-handed it is not. It was probably somewhat unusual for its time. The thought that everyone's relationship and perception of God could greatly vary, and that to be true to your religion was entirely non judgmental and meant being kind to other people and trying to make yourself better, not other people? The thought that each person must be allowed to deal with these feelings in their own time in their own way? Wacky stuff.

    I admit it seems like a tough sell to today's kids, packaged in somewhat formal sounding-language, and bearing every indication of being literary broccoli, but this book is a classic for a reason. It might be a tough sell, but I don't think we should give up on trying to think of ways to do it anyway. What's inside still counts. Don't write it off.

  • Corrie

    The book begins:

    "Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents, grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.

    It's so dreadful to be poor! sighed Meg, looking down at her old dress.

    I don't think it's fair for some girls to have plenty of pretty things, and other girls nothing at all, added little Amy, with an injured sniff.

    We've got Father and Mother, and each other, said Beth contentedly from her corner."

    There's an undercurrent of anger in this book and I think Louisa May Alcott would have gone much furthe

    The book begins:

    "Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents, grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.

    It's so dreadful to be poor! sighed Meg, looking down at her old dress.

    I don't think it's fair for some girls to have plenty of pretty things, and other girls nothing at all, added little Amy, with an injured sniff.

    We've got Father and Mother, and each other, said Beth contentedly from her corner."

    There's an undercurrent of anger in this book and I think Louisa May Alcott would have gone much further with it if her publisher had allowed it and if it weren't a children's book.

    Louisa herself was fiercely independent and didn't marry. Of course, Jo, her doppelganger and the heroine of the book, did marry. I think the struggle for girls and women to be themselves while following convention is an experience that resonates today. I also think that, ironically, when people today want to return to the simple life, they all forget that there was no simple life. Although youngest sister Amy carries her books to school, writes with an inkwell and fights over pickled limes, her father is fighting a real war fought for ideology and national unity. Martha Stewart has us searching for the "good things" and harkening back to garden bounties but nineteenth century girls and women were nearly bound to the home.

    Young boys and girls might find the domesticity in the book offputting but it was necessary for people to have domestic skills or they could not survive. The working poor in the 1860s, like the working poor today, could not afford maids. Louisa May Alcott's family occasionally made money from making and mending clothing just to get by. I think there was just as much screaming as crying going on in the Alcott household, but Louisa tones things down for the March family.

    The March family and the sisters made me yearn for my own sisters which never materialized. I also realized that wanting to draw, paint, play music, perform plays and write were interests that I shared with people of another time period. The book itself was written after the Civil War and has a purposeful nostalgic tone.

    Jo scribbles in the attic and relishes the time she has to write but she is expected to work as a caretaker for her elderly aunt. None of these girls are independently wealthy and the poverty that Alcott writes about in the book mirrors the poverty of her own life but she softens the reality for her fiction. Alcott's father Amos Bronson Alcott was not a soldier, yet he was often away from home. He was a dynamic lecturer and a revolutionary educator who was disillusioned by public reaction to some of his innovations and was often jobless.

    While a good portion of white northerners were against slavery and wanted more rights for black Americans, they did not go as far as the Alcotts did in their support. I wish that she had written more about their anti-slavery positions.

    It's also not widely known that Bronson Alcott was shunned for educating black students.

    Reading Little Women in fourth grade caused me to work as a historical interpreter at the Orchard House for six years many years later. I visited Fruitlands, the Old Manse, the Wayside and the House of the Seven Gables. I studied transcendentalism and learned about the contributions of Elizabeth Peabody and other great female intellectuals of the nineteenth century. I was forever changed after reading the book and I've reread it too many times to count.

    Louisa was a master marketer akin to J.K. Rowling. She also had a strong survival instinct like Rowling. She desperately needed to make money and writing was her one marketable skill. Notably, she was able to write the book under her own name and not use a gender neutral pseudonym.

    The book is written for a younger audience and older readers reading it for the first time might not feel a connection with the book because all Victorian children's books were infused with a heavy dose of morality. Girls especially have always been told to endure hardships while remaining happy. My grandmother Ethel, who grew up in the 1930s, told me her mother said to her: "It's easy to be happy when life rolls along like a song. But it's the girl who's worthwhile who will smile when everything goes wrong."

  • Huda Yahya
  • Duane

    I have read 18 of Louisa May Alcott's books, so I guess I can safely say that I am very familiar with her work. Some of them were very good, some not quite as good. All had that 19th century down home feeling with wonderful, memorable characters. But only one of her novels reached the level of what could be called literary greatness. Somehow, with this simple story, and these adorable characters, with a heart warming and heart wrenching plot, Alcott creates an American classic, her masterpiece.

    I have read 18 of Louisa May Alcott's books, so I guess I can safely say that I am very familiar with her work. Some of them were very good, some not quite as good. All had that 19th century down home feeling with wonderful, memorable characters. But only one of her novels reached the level of what could be called literary greatness. Somehow, with this simple story, and these adorable characters, with a heart warming and heart wrenching plot, Alcott creates an American classic, her masterpiece. Yes it is dated, but Little Women will always have a place in our hearts, in our homes, and in the World's libraries.

    PS: I rewrote this review on 11/29/2016, in honor of her 184th birthday, and my birthday that I share with her, just with a slightly smaller number.

  • Fabian

    Yes, yes. I'm a grown ass man reading this, but I'm not ashamed. I also read the "Twilight" sa-ha-ha-ga & a bunch of Charlaine Harris as well, remember? Some rules simply don't apply.

    What I tried to do here was dispel the extra melodrama and embrace the cut-outs (fat trimmed out) of the Winona Ryder film. I was on the hunt for all the "new" (ha!) stuff that the regular person, well informed of the plot involving four young girls growing up (or in the case of Beth, not) never even knew existe

    Yes, yes. I'm a grown ass man reading this, but I'm not ashamed. I also read the "Twilight" sa-ha-ha-ga & a bunch of Charlaine Harris as well, remember? Some rules simply don't apply.

    What I tried to do here was dispel the extra melodrama and embrace the cut-outs (fat trimmed out) of the Winona Ryder film. I was on the hunt for all the "new" (ha!) stuff that the regular person, well informed of the plot involving four young girls growing up (or in the case of Beth, not) never even knew existed. But it seems that the film did a great job not adding many more scenes than direly needed (like the Byrne-Ryder night at the opera scene-- it explains why she didn't choose Laurie after all) nor taking indispensable scenes from the century-&-a-half old novel to the cutting room floor. Alas, there is a good reason why Entertainment Weekly once decreed that the film was a great comfort to all post-911 victims. The story has no great battles to speak of... no violence, no terrible disasters. The minutiae is symbolic of fragile domestic existences... important and very fun to read about--this coming from a Bridget and Carrie Bradshaw fan of course. "Little Women" is at its core all about Old School American values, such as temperance, forgiveness, hard work. It has astute lessons aplenty--to rival even old Aesopus himself. Laurie and Amy have the best lines, and there are plenty of groans amidst cute vignettes and harsh but necessary life lessons--for Americans and non alike. This is relevant today, more so than "On the Road" or other so called quintessential American classics--& that's a genuine PLUS.

    This one stands as outstanding soap opera theatrics woven intelligently with American history herself. Good stuff, like a wise mentor of American Lit would say.

  • Zoë

    2017 update: I reread this as it was the Austentatious book for June and July! I didn't love it as much as I did the first time I read it, but I am glad I got to revisit the story. (Also, this time I Amy was my favorite character?)

    Book 12/100 for 2015

    I had to read this book for my Children's Lit class and I loved it! We've done a lot of discussion which has really opened my mind to new things in the book and made me love it even more. I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone wanting to get i

    2017 update: I reread this as it was the Austentatious book for June and July! I didn't love it as much as I did the first time I read it, but I am glad I got to revisit the story. (Also, this time I Amy was my favorite character?)

    Book 12/100 for 2015

    I had to read this book for my Children's Lit class and I loved it! We've done a lot of discussion which has really opened my mind to new things in the book and made me love it even more. I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone wanting to get into classics as it's a children's book (so easy to read) but also there are fantastic characters (except Amy, I really hate Amy).

  • Cait • A Page with a View

    This really is one of my top 5 favorite books of all time... it never gets old.

    I just love every single character and the entire story SO much that I don't even know what else to say. It's perfect. That is all.

    And I know the movie is

    different, but I still love that as well!

  • AMEERA

    i can tell this become my favorite classic book besides all classics books of the queen of classics books Jane Austin , and u can see a lot of classic word here :D


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