Book Review – Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)

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There is no denying that Little Women is a classic. It’s one of those books that if you admit to never having read it, people will give you this look.

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I had read it once before this time, back in primary school, but I’m almost certain it was an abridged version, made into a smaller novel for children. So I thought it high time I’d read it again, especially when I found the beautiful Puffin Cloth Classics edition of it!

Having watched the 1994 version of Little Women close to a billion times, it was easy to see why they cast Winona Ryder as Jo March, she was lively, boisterous, ambitious and thoroughly enjoyable to watch as Jo. In fact all the girls were cast very well! It was only after reading Little Women that I thought perhaps Laurie could have been cast a little different. Not that I have anything against Christian Bale! But Laurie is described as having “curly black hair, brown skin, big black eyes…” and so I rather pictured him as more stereo-typically “Italian”. Christian Bale with his fair skin, hazel eyes and ginger streaks just didn’t quite fit the bill for me, but enough about casting!

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You know the term “the moral to the story”? Well there are countless morals to the story in Little Women, there is always a lesson to be learned and a chance for the girls to better their characters. Sooooo many people review this book as “too moral” which I find hard to understand. How on earth can something be too moral? Aren’t morals good things? Aren’t they what teach us to love one another rather than fight with on another? Aren’t they what teach us to give to those less fortunate? Aren’t they what teach us that it’s what’s on the inside that counts? Maybe the problem is that what we are told we should be reading and watching these days can be so immoral that when we read classics like Little Women it sparks our moral conscience? Maybe if stories like Little Women and Pride and Prejudice were more common place, the world we live in now might have been a kinder place than it is today. But who knows, I just can’t understand why having morals could be a bad thing. Something I find ironic is that Beth is almost on par with Jo as being a favourite sister to readers, and yet, she is the most moral of them all. She isn’t vain, she is slow to anger, she is selfless, kind and caring. Of course, Louisa May Alcott then saw fit to kill her off. Oops I mean SPOILER ALERT. If you didn’t know Beth dies I am sorry for ruining it for you but come on, everyone knows that.

Yes, Joey, if you keep reading Beth will die. But if it’s any consolation, I didn’t cry when I read it like I cry every time she dies in the film. The part where Hannah puts petals on her dolls kills me. If you are worried about having to experience Beth’s death however, the Puffin Cloth Classic is the book for you! As I later found out whilst approaching the end of the story, Little Women is actually written in two parts! They were first published as Volume I and Volume II of Little Women, but now Volume II is known as Good Wives. So Good Wives starts three years after the curtain falls on Little Women! If you want to read both parts of the story you can find that here.

What I love about Little Women is that each of the March sisters are easy to relate to in one way of the other. You can ask any reader of Little Women and they will have a favourite sister. None of the girls are perfect, but they each try to be the best versions of themselves that they can be, and I think that’s lovely. When I read Little Women, I didn’t think to myself “there’s too many morals, I feel like I’m being preached at”,  instead I actually felt rather up lifted and inspired, I want to be the best version of me I can be. I think Little Women is almost like a motivational, self-help book, you can go into it feeling down and angry and bitter and come out of it feeling encouraged and excited and ready to hit the ups and downs of life head on. And for that, I will always recommend Little Women.

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