Little Women
Thursday, April 8, 2010

I wish I could say my love affair with reading began many years ago, with my parents unable to peel away the latest Beverly Cleary novel clutched tightly within my youthful grasp. But honestly, I've never had much of an interest in reading, following story lines, or visualizing characters. It all seemed like too much of an investment of my time to "waste" on...well...fictitious stories.

About two years ago, I joined a book club just to get out of the house and the rest is history. I started reading a book a month and then found myself finishing books withing three days. Before I knew it I had a "to-read" list of about 40 books, including some great American classics that were supposed to have been read in high school. But c'mon. Not too many kids can get through those dozers without the help of trusty ol' cliff notes.

One such novel is Little Women. Apparently, I wrote a report on Louisa May Alcott in high school and thought for sure I must have read Little Women in order to write such a report, but I couldn't recall too many details of the story. So, in order to get my own personal credit for reading it, I decided to give it another go. About 30 pages into the story, I realized not a smidgen of it sounded the least bit familiar and that I had, embarrassingly, written my high school report based solely on cliff notes. Shame. On. Me. For Little Women is indeed a timeless classic that can (and should) be appreciated no matter the age or gender of the reader (well, the latter is a bit of an exaggeration, for I couldn't imagine too many men getting warm fuzzies over teenage girls realizing and learning to overcome their character flaws).

But anyway. The story is simple. It's long. No edge-of-your-seat moments or unexpected twists. It's just a story. A very well-told story about a family of four girls (and their saint of a mother...oh, how I long to be like Marmee) struggling with the absence of their father, serving in the Civil War. The novel is loosely based on the life of the author, Louisa May Alcott, who literally pours her true self (in all of its awkwardness) into the story's chief protagonist, Josephine (Jo) March. Each chapter contains valuable life lessons, written with poise, and directly from the heart.

But what I found most fascinating was just how progressive Alcott was in her writing. She wrote the story in the 1800's, during an era in which sexuality was greatly repressed. Yet she had the courage to write about herself (through Jo) and her own awkwardness with members of the opposite sex. She was a feminist and portrayed it boldly through her character. Considering how much we've evolved as a society since that time period, I came to my own conclusions rather quickly regarding Louisa May Alcott's true sexual orientation. Some will wholeheartedly disagree, and that is their right, but the realization that Alcott could've likely been gay became quite obvious to me early on in my reading. Writing was most likely the most effective outlet in helping her sort through her feelings of isolation. How fascinating. How bold.

Alcott herself never married. Some say she wanted her character in Little Women, Jo, to remain an old maid as well, but married her off only to appease her fans. Regardless, I adore the tenderness of this story and appreciate how applicable it is to my own life, 140 years later.

Okay. So just because I loved it doesn't mean I'll be reading it again any time soon. It was a long book that took me nearly a month to get through. But I look forward to reading and discussing this with my own daughter (I can tell you right now, Wyatt will take one look at the cover and roll his eyes at it) several years from now.

Of course, after reading the book, I had to rent the movie. For Eric, watching it was just short of torture. I tried so hard to weep silently at certain parts, but he never failed to catch me mid-sniffle. Finally, he sighed, rolled his eyes and said, "Oh my gosh. Watching movies with you is like watching The Biggest Loser." (For those who don't watch, there is an overwhelming amount of crying that goes on in that show. Eric can hardly "stomach" it [sorry, that's so, so bad of me]).

Anyway, if you've never read Little Women, and you don't have a Y chromosome, then you must read this novel. If you've read it, but it's been a while, I hope you'll consider reading it again, for you'll gain so much more perspective than you did the first time around.

The. End.

Anonymous Anonymous had this to say:

Now you should read Anne of Green Gables. A lovely person we both know recently gave a copy of that book to my daughter. I picked it up and then could barely put it down. There are so many facets to well written, well told stories that I think we just do not appreciate until we are much older. Happy reading! Love Aunt D

April 8, 2010 at 1:32 PM 

Blogger Rachel had this to say:

I love Little Women... and I think I will read it again, thanks!

Did you see the episode of Friends where Rachel read The Shining and Joey read Little Women? Hysterical.

April 8, 2010 at 8:50 PM 

Post a Comment

Back To the Main Page



My Wine Personality:
For the most part I’m a chardonnay, as I consider myself to exhibit a somewhat sunny and mellow disposition (most of the time), but because I find a tremendous amount of joy out of showering my two kids with hugs and kisses, I also possess the subtle sweetness often found in a riesling. But don’t be fooled. I love a great outdoor adventure and am willing to try anything once. This occasional display of boldness is thought to match that of a cabernet, whereas my appreciation for nature suggests that I have an earthy component to my personality—very characteristic of a merlot. (more)


“Wine rejoices the heart of man and joy is the mother of all virtues.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1771