I first came across Little Women as a child, and I came across it out of order; we had an old cloth-bound copy of Jo’s Boys on the bookshelf in my childhood home. It was next to Treasure Island, which I had devoured, and being a child I assumed that since books were next to each other they must be related. Ooops! I quickly learned the error of my ways (thanks Willoughby Wallace Memorial Library!) and settled down with an old illustrated tome.
I was Jo. Who wasn’t Jo? If you sought that book out, then boy howdy did you fancy yourself a Jo. You too wanted to be the stand-in for Louisa May Alcott herself! I wanted to re-read the novel before the new movie came out- see what I retained from the original, see what changes my own thoughts had made, but what drew me to this edition was less the story itself (and what a great story it is!) and more of the annotated pieces without the edition.
Anne Boyd Rioux, who wrote the incredible Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters, fills this edition with fascinating and illuminating facts and anecdotes throughout- not just about Ms. Alcott and her home and life, but about the world in general at the time. What it meant to be a woman, what religion looked like, how the Civil War effected those far beyond the battlefield, what trade looked like, how houses were kept- it is an enriching line that runs throughout and puts the life of the March girls into clearer (and possibly closer) perspective than ever before. She also wrote several introductions; one aimed towards first-time readers, one aimed towards adults, and one aimed towards sharing the novel for children.
Best of all (aside from the story itself), there is a delightful forward from Patti Smith about her experiences in living the book as a child. Of course she was a Jo!
Now that I look back on myself and my own life, work, and habits- I am an Amy and proud of it. She is far more than who I thought she was as a child. I understand so much more now.
On a CBR note-Thank you all for reading along with me, and thank you for letting me into this wonderful community! I did not meet my whole goal, but hey- I made it half way and I’ll strive to be “more Jo” next year in fulfilling the entire challenge! I sustained a permanent brain injury a few years back, and only now am I comfortable in writing again. Reading came back quicker, but putting my thoughts together is still a struggle. I hope next year to continue with my progress and to be a more involved member of this community. Cheers to 2020, y’all!