Generations of readers young and old, male and female, have fallen in love with the March sisters of Louisa May Alcott’s most popular and enduring novel, Little Women. Here are talented tomboy and author-to-be Jo, tragically frail Beth, beautiful Meg, and romantic, spoiled Amy, united in their devotion to each other and their struggles to survive in New England during the Civil War.
It is no secret that Alcott based Little Women on her own early life. While her father, the freethinking reformer and abolitionist Bronson Alcott, hobnobbed with such eminent male authors as Emerson, Thoreau, and Hawthorne, Louisa supported herself and her sisters with “woman’s work,” including sewing, doing laundry, and acting as a domestic servant. But she soon discovered she could make more money writing. Little Women brought her lasting fame and fortune, and far from being the “girl’s book” her publisher requested, it explores such timeless themes as love and death, war and peace, the conflict between personal ambition and family responsibilities, and the clash of cultures between Europe and America.
Little Women is the most splendid read. This classic is a favourite of mine and this is not the first time I have read this beautiful novel. If you haven’t read Little Women, you may not realise that it is an utterly timeless story. It is a story of four sisters, Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy, who each have their own interests and personalities and we learn how they cope in the most difficult of times; when their father is at war, sickness of a sister and their mother is away. Their daily lives are written about in such a way that I am immediately drawn into the March home and feel a part if their family. The sisters are normal sisters; they show kindness, share their trials and tribulations and argue with oneanother. The most beautiful part of their relationship is the love they all share.
As an only child reading this novel, I loved to read of the sisters and their lives that were so different to mine. In the novel, I had a favourite sister whose personality I identified with more than the rest. I enjoyed following Jo’s life, with her interest in reading, writing and strong will. A writer first and foremost and a girl/woman who would follow her heart. I would read this with my mum as a young girl. My mum grew up with four sisters and I enjoyed listening to her stories of what it was like to grow up in a house full of girls. I have no doubt that there were many moments similar to what the March girls experience.
Louisa M. Alcott’s writing is beautiful in message and meaning. Each chapter presents a lesson to learn by and the value placed on family. Love is the main message throughout the novel. What a loving family. Here is a mother who is always concerned for others. A woman who will look after other families and teach her daughters how much more important it is to give than receive. She teaches her daughters values and morals of life. The relationship between Mr and Mrs March is respectful and loving. Mrs March states ‘I must try to practise all the virtues I would have my little girls possess, for I was their example.’ Mrs March’s husband showed her this and we can only hope as parents we model behaviour we wish for our children.
In addition to the main characters, I also love another character in the story. Mr Laurence is a kindhearted man who has experienced pain and loss throughout his life. He is thoughtful and loves to hear Beth play the piano, as his beloved granddaughter once did. Mr Laurence is there when Mr March cannot be and is off at war. He is a gentle soul who is strict with his grandson and wants the best for him. He is an old gentleman such as this who cares for others and does not all himself to be restricted by class, rather a man who does what is right. We all wish we had a grandfather or neighbour like dear Mr Laurence.
If you would like to read a classic story that will tear at your heartstrings and be one of the most beautiful novels you may have ever read, please pick up this novel. The sense of family values is more important today than ever. This is a timeless novel that will live on in my childhood memories. Rereading this novel was the best decision I made. I am still in love with this classic.