There is a lot of confusion surrounding this book and the sad events in it. I went in thinking Beth dies, because that’s what Friends had told me, and I kept reading, dreading the moment it would happen. So I was spoiled – sort of. Because in this edition she recovers and we are given to think that they all live happily ever after. Something to do with American editions including the sequel (in which Beth does die), versus British editions that don’t…
**END OF SPOILERS**
Anyhow. Another classic that I hadn’t read, Little Women is the story of the girls in the March family. Each chapter reads like a short story out of quite an ordinary existence: the girls work, they play, they love each other and they try to better themselves. We follow them as they grow from spoiled children to, well, little women. Their initial troubles seem insignificant as they learn what’s truly important in life.
Little Women is a cozy read and it doesn’t feel that dated, even though it was written in the 1800s. The girls’ values are based on the Christian faith but Alcott never really beats you over the head with them. It’s as if these values are a universal “do your best to be a kind person”. Still a good rule to live by, no matter your religious views or absence thereof. The four March girls all have distinct personalities and voices. Jo in particular is a strongly written character. There were allusions as to her sexuality perhaps not being completely aligned with the norms of the time, which would in that case be a bold choice on Alcott’s part. I liked how accepting of her everyone was, even though she was “different”. I also loved the sense of humour that was present throughout this book (mostly at Amy’s expense) – had it not been there the book might have been more “stuffy”.
I enjoyed this book despite the fact that my expectations got in the way of me just relaxing and reading it. It was an easy read and I understand why it has a classic standing. I don’t know if it will stay with me though; it feels like one of those books you need to read when you’re young, or else it doesn’t make that big of an impression.