Mother’s day is this weekend! That got me to thinking about my mother, and mothers in general… and of course books about mums. That led me to Little Women by Louisa M. Alcott, which I decided to review on the blog today in honour of celebrating of mothers!
What’s the history?
When reviewing a classic book I always enjoy giving a little bit of background. Knowing a bit of history about a book makes the reading of it that much richer, at least for me anyway.
Little Women was written by Alcott in 1868. She wrote the book at the request of her publisher who asked her to write a book ‘for little girls’. It was originally published in two volumes – Little Women and Good wives. While modern editions often combine these two volumes into one book, if you find an old edition of Little Women like mine be aware you might only have half the story you expect to find.
Little Women is considered to be semi-autobiographical with events within the book being inspired by Alcott’s own family and experiences.
What’s it about?
Little Women follows the lives of the four March sisters – Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. The girls live with their mother, affectionately called ‘Marmee’, in Massachusetts. The girls father is absent, away on duties as a pastor with the American civil war and the book opens as the family faces their first Christmas with him away. As the book continues we see each of the sisters grow up, and deal with the stresses of life, love and friendship. There is tragedy and strength to be learned from each of their journeys.
What I liked?
I first experienced Little Women when I was around ten years old. It was not the book which I experienced first, but rather the 1994 film with Winona Ryder. Say what you will about the film, but I remember loving the story and wanting to know more about the March sisters. I personally identified with Jo March with her passion for books and writing (clearly a natural choice for me!).
As this post is in honour of Mothers day I wanted to reflect on the role of Marmee in Little Women. She’s often overlooked in discussions about this book, with more attention being spent on her daughters. I wanted to say this: Marmee is amazing!
While her daughters are truly wonderful characters, they are being raised by an equally as wonderful woman. Raising children is difficult work, and this woman does it solo in a time period where her options were limited when it came to getting help. She is real with her children, sharing with them the difficulties they face with their father away. Yet, she still provides for them, and works hard to bring them joy.
“Jo was the first to wake in the grey dawn of Christmas morning. No stockings hung at the fireplace, and for a moment she felt as much disappointed as she did long ago when her little sock fell down because it was so crammed with goodies. Then she remembered her mothers promise, and slipping her hand under her pillow, drew out a little crimson book.”Little Women – Louisa Allcott
It’s from Marmee that the girls learn their kindness. It’s from Marmee that they learn to work hard. The role of Marmee in this book is vital in recognising the women the girls grow to be.
What I liked least?
Honestly, I found some of the sisters a bit irritating, but that’s personal preference. I found Amy to be a bit vain, and Beth to be a bit boring. But, all the sisters have their flaws and strengths and what likes me dislike those sisters could be what makes them someone’s favourite character. The fact that I feel emotions towards those characters at all is a sign of a good book.
Final thoughts and recommendation
I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys stories about families. If you enjoy Anne of Green Gables and anything by Jane Austen you’ll probably really like Little Women. If you’ve seen the movie, read the book! It’s not necessarily always better – but it always has something different to offer.
If you’re a mother reading the blog today, thank you. You play a significant role in the lives of your children. For those of you that maybe mothers day is a painful time I recognise that this weekend might be hard. I hope you’ve got the right people around you. Please remember a mother doesn’t have to be biological, but could just be a special woman has been there for you. A mother figure. If you have a mother, or mother figure that you know and love, take time this weekend to thank her. Mothers are awesome!
I’d like to thank my mum (I know you’re reading this haha!) especially for always loving me, and helping me become the person I am today. You’re the best. XX
I hope you enjoyed this review! Have you read Little Women? Which character is your favourite and why? Comment below! I’d love to hear from you!
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