I did not have reading Little Women on my Bingo card, and yet here I am. A friend mentioned offhandedly that she was watching the 90s film adaptation and two of us admitted (sheepishly) that we had never read the book (I know!) so a trio book club was born. I was surprised to remember I hadn’t read this book. (Heck, when I posted my Reel review of this book on Facebook, a classmate I haven’t talked to in years said they were surprised I hadn’t read it, knowing what a big reader I was in high school). It’s not that big of a mystery really, I had a real obstinant streak in my youth with wanting to be “different” about not liking literature that girls were drawn to (see also the Brontes and Austen). But now that I have finally read it, I’m so glad I did!!
Reading this book is the literary equivalent of watching Great British Baking Show, it is a big warm soothing blanket of a book, that will make you wistful for simpler times, when the only responsibilities of a woman were to wear her bonnet secure, darn the socks, wait for love, and learn to keep house. And yes, I hear you, opportunities for women were few and those times were also plagued with scarlet fever and people barely had indoor plumbing, but when you are staring down another day of adulting in 2024 with a never-ending list of errands and ennui, the thought of sitting by a window with a needle and thread seems pretty chill.
This charming book is even more enticing once you know that it is semi-autobiographical, as Alcott is one of four sisters, so much of this story is plucked and reimagined from her own life. I won’t go into a lot of detail reviewing a 168-year-old book that has had six film adaptations, at least five TV adaptations, a play, a musical a ballet, and an opera (!) but I do have a few observations I want to share.
- I don’t have a sister, but, if my sister, being annoyed with me because we didn’t take her to see a play, BURNED THE BOOK I HAD BEEN WRITING FOR YEARS and then later the next day, fell into a frozen pond. Well, I’m not sure what woulda transpired. Yes, Amy was just 12, but still. #justiceforjosbook
- And again, I don’t have a sister, but are we really really saying that if someone proposes to a sister and that sister says no, and then he marries another sister we are are all cool with that? I’m trying to chalk it up to differentiating between the fancies of childhood and what one wants once they grow up but still, I feel like that would make holidays weird.
- When reading writing such as Alcott’s, highly descriptive with flowery language interspersed with action, my mind wanders and I don’t capture every detail and can miss key points. For example, somewhere along the way, I conflated Polly (the parrot) with Flo (their cousin) and was very surprised when on page 305 a parrot, that they took to France was talking in complete sentences. Because it was not the parrot. It was their cousin.
My wandering attention aside, I was utterly charmed by this book and sad to see it end. I can’t wait to recommend it to people for literally everyone I know to tell me yes, they know it’s great, they read it already.