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Carpe Librum

Bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.


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Historical Novel Society

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (audio)

Little Women - Louisa May Alcott

This is one of those should have read classics with lots of 5-star ratings with no reviews to back them up. I assume that means that we all know that we're supposed to love it but can't come up with a single reason why.


If I had read this book when I was younger, I believe that I would have appreciated it more. As a girl, I may have been encouraged by the omnipresent tenderness, kindness, humility, and grace that fills this novel. Reading it now, I found it too sugary sweet and improbable.


There were a few moments that I enjoyed, such as watching Jo's unconventional romance unfold. However, too much of this book was spent preaching on morals to an audience that was grateful for the guidance and correction. Either children were completely different in the 1860s or Alcott is remembering her childhood with extremely rose colored glasses.


The moment that stands out to me the most was when the mother, irritatingly referred to as "Marmee" throughout the book, is coaching Jo on controlling her temper. She admits that her husband helps her control her words by signalling her when she is edging toward inappropriateness. Oh yeah, that would totally work with me. I mean, it would work to get that anger directed toward him instead of the kid that deserved it, but whatever. Beloved Marmee has a similar discussion with Meg when troubles arise in the young marriage. Meg is convinced by her mother that she should not neglect her husband just because she has twin infants, and Meg humbly agrees.


I'm not saying that the advice given in this book doesn't have it's basis in truth. It does, but all this moralizing is backed up by a thin plot and too much "isn't everything wonderful!" Even when these four girls are given a break from household chores, they quickly agree that they miss it and that idle hands are a curse......um, yeah, my kids say the same thing if I do the dishes for them.


Even when a character dies, everyone agrees that it is a wonderful case of having an angel in the family. Slightly later, one sister is happy to marry the man that she knows is actually in love with another sister. But that's alright, we shall grow to love and respect one another and find great comfort in our well-matched personalities.

(show spoiler)



If you are looking for a good book to give a 12-13 year old girl or would like a fanciful fluffy read for yourself, this might fit the bill. I admit that I was disappointed.