I’ve read Little Women countless times, and there was always malcontent about how certain love dilemmas resolved themselves. I used to think that Alcott really didn’t know her characters. But reading it this time, as a married adult, I think she might have been on to something.
If you’ve never read Little Women (and seriously, why haven’t you?), it’s the story of the four March sisters trying to keep their spirits up during the Civil War. They undergo character trials, vexations, and the simple joys that come from open minds and pure hearts. While not rich, they find wealth and treasure in family, music, and homespun delights. It sounds like a bald story, and it does feel didactic at times. Yet it’s a salve to the disappointments and wounds of life, and it’s a joy to read every time. The story is split into two books: the first spans a year in their adolescent lives, and the second book springs forward by two or three years and moves us into their adulthoods.
I would be remiss if I didn’t at least allude to the infamous Sad Part. You know, the part Joey never gets to, because he hates the sads and puts the book in the freezer?
I’ve read this book how many times, and I never fail to crumple up into a ball when the family mourns and “thanked God that Beth was well at last.” Oh, the river of tears.
On a separate note: this was a pleasure to listen to on audiobook. Kate Reading read this, as she did with My Life in Middlemarch, and her voice lent a richness to the story. It was (minus the storm of weeping) a lovely, lovely experience.