CBR11 Bingo Back To School.
I haven’t read this book since middle school probably. I did read it repeatedly in my younger years because I identified very much with Jo- never quite doing what was expected of her or fitting in very well, but always with the best of intentions. I have to say that my feelings now aren’t much different than they were twenty-five years ago.
Little Women tells the story of the March family during the Civil War years. Mr. March is fighting in the war and Mrs. March is home raising their four daughters. Responsible Meg is eldest, lively Jo second, quiet Beth third and spoiled Amy the youngest. The two eldest daughters are only 16 and 15 years old but have left school to work and bring in money to support the family. Beth helps keep the home and Amy goes to school. The March family is poor but rely on their faith and companionship to get through tough times. Lean holidays, bruised egos, and illnesses must be got through before Mr. March returns home.
The Marches live next door to elderly Mr. Lawrence, a wealthy man raising his grandson Theodore. Jo takes it upon herself to introduce some fun in to young Laurie’s life and they become near inseparable companions. Things must have been markedly different in the Civil War years, because though Jo and Laurie are 15 and 16 respectively when they begin their friendship there is no romantic inclination on either part (towards each other, or different parties) for several years. When he returns from college, after having flirted his way through many rich young ladies, Laurie gets the idea that he and Jo should get married. Jo finds this alarming and unwanted and she turns him down, breaking his heart.
On this re-read I had a lot more sympathy for Jo than I did as a child. I can remember always being angry with her for not being able to love Teddy the way he loved her, and being angry with him for moving on to her sister. And not just her sister, but the worst sister! As an adult, I’m a bit kinder to them all. Even old man Behr.