"Little Women" is an American classic, adored for Louisa May Alcott's lively and vivid portraits of the endearing March sisters: talented tomboy Jo, pretty Meg, shy Beth, temperamental Amy. Millions have shared in their joys, hardships, and adventures as they grow up in Civil War New England, separated by the war from their father and beloved mother, "Marmee", blossoming from "little women" into adults. Jo searches for her writer's voice and finds unexpected love... Meg prepares for marriage and a family... Beth reaches out to the less fortunate, tragically... and Amy travels to Europe to become a painter. Based on Louisa May Alcott's own Yankee childhood, "Little Women" is a treasure-- a story whose enduring values of patience, loyalty, and love have kept this extraordinary family close to the hearts of generation after generation of delighted readers. [ synopsis from goodreads ]
Urgh I don't even know where to start with this one. I just finished it and I'm honestly overjoyed? Because I was getting very tired of devoting my time to it when I was no longer enjoying it.
Okay so I'll start off by saying that I REALLY, REALLY loved the first half of this book. It was beautiful and fun and I loved how lively everyone was and I loved all of the relationships and the characters were great. It was just a lot of fun and I enjoyed every minute of it. I flew through it. I couldn't get enough. I would EASILY give that section five stars.
But, unfortunately, Alcott wrote this book in two parts. And equally as unfortunate, it seems she got a lot of feedback from fans before she wrote the second part. And took all of it to heart. The second half of this book was such a mess. I hated pretty much every minute of it. It was absolutely nothing like the first half. The names of the characters weren't the same, I would say they're two different books.
So where to even start with what annoyed me??? So, the second half felt too long. And there were a great number of things that didn't need to be in there. I've been telling people that it felt too preachy. That's not really the right sentiment but it's as close as I can get?? Basically it feels like Alcott decided that this was her one and only shot at telling off everyone whose opinions she doesn't agree with. So she wrote in a lot of rants about things or threw them in to character interactions. Most of them were frightfully boring or I just didn't agree with either??
For example, the one that bugged me most was when Jo was writing "sensational stories" (which I took to be nothing more than fun little horror stories) but those were "very bad" and "going against all of her morals" and Bhaer had to "set her straight before she did real damage to her reputation". Okay first of all, calm down. Just because you had something against horror stories doesn't mean the rest of the world does? And by writing them, Jo is in no way risking her reputation or compromising her morals. But things like that were peppered all throughout the second section of the book?? It seemed like there were more rants than there was story.
And beyond that is probably the most obvious reason why I didn't like this section. I did not like where each girl ended up at the end of the novel. I really, really wanted Jo and Laurie to marry (as it seems does everyone else). But in doing research I found that when Alcott published the first half, readers were all but demanding that she make the match in the second half and because of that she had them marry *other people*. To be entirely honest, I think that it's Alcott as a person that I don't like and it really comes through in her writing. And that bugs me to death.
But anyway. I was deeply grieved by Beth's death. Of all the March sisters she was definitely my favorite and I almost didn't want to go on after she died?? In the midst of the chunk of the book I really despised, she was the one bright spot. And then she was gone. Yet another reason why this last section was so hard to read????
So I did really like Bhaer. As a person. He was hilarious and loveable and just all around wonderful. But he didn't seem to fit with Jo in a romantic sense?? He felt more like a good friend and mentor. And the same with Laurie and Amy. It was almost like she was a consolation prize when he couldn't have who he really wanted. It seems like Alcott spent all this time building these great relationships just to tear them down when readers liked them a little *too* much.
Well, I think that's about it?? Because it was so utterly difficult for me to read this book, I probably won't be revisiting it. I guess what disappoints me so much is that I expected so much from it and I was just constantly underwhelmed. I thought I was going to love it. And I did. For a time.
Now I'm just ready to be on to other things. And I'm honestly more than relieved that I've finally finished this one. I guess I just wish Alcott wouldn't have written it in two parts. If she would've just written the whole thing in one go I think it would've turned out a lot differently. And then maybe I would've liked it better.
*sigh* Oh well. I guess you can't have everything.
review originally posted on goodreads