I’ve got the key to my castle in the air, but whether I can unlock the door remains to be seen” – Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
Little Women is one of the most beloved novels of classic literature. It tells the story of the four March sisters: Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, as they learn to make their way in the world. Through their imaginative games and misadventures, the March sisters learn about the trials and tribulations of growing up.
About the Book
Title: Little Women
Author: Louisa May Alcott
Year Published: 1868-1869
Pages: 449 (depending on the edition)
Series: Little Women (followed by Good Wives, Little Men, and Jo’s Boys)
When I was in my pre-teen years, I wanted to read as many classic novels as possible. In every top classic novel list, I would find on the Internet, Little Women was always there. For years, I had held off on reading it because I thought it would be an overly sentimental novel about obedient young women and their trivial adventures. Nearly a year ago, I was assigned to read Little Women and its sequel Good Wives for a class on 19th century American novels. So, I had no choice but to dive in to this 400-page book (depending on the edition, of course). My impression of the book gradually changed as I read more and more of the story. Now, I completely understand why so many people are in love with this book.
The story is relatively simple. Four sisters (Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy) try to make the best of their situation when their father goes off to war (the civil war). Each sister has a very distinct personality. Meg is the motherly sister who is the beauty of the family. Jo is the energetic tomboy of the family who is a gifted writer. Beth is the quiet and sweet selfless sister. And then finally, there is Amy March, the sassy artistic sister. The book is a recount of the daily lives of the March sisters and hilarious misadventures as they face as they are growing up. This coming of age story can be compared to the likes of Anne of Green Gables. Though in my opinion, I am fonder of Little Women.
As I began studying this novel in class, I found out that the author of Little Women had an extraordinary life for a woman living in the mid eighteen hundreds. Louisa May Alcott was an abolitionist and a feminist writer who also served as a nurse during the civil war. She wrote Little Women based on a romanticized vision of her childhood. Alcott saw herself in her protagonist Jo March because of their similarities in personality and their love of writing.
Before the publication of Little Women, there were hardly any novels that were created for an audience of young women. Little Women opened up a new branch of fiction for young women that was not geared towards learning etiquette and how to be a dutiful daughter. Therefore, it was a book that was before its time, which is probably why it is still incredibly popular today.
I would recommend this book not only to young women, but to anyone who is or has been a young adult. For those who are a young adult, they will see themselves in either Jo, Meg, Beth, Amy, or Laurie (or all of them!), and for those who are currently adults will be able to reflect on their own misadventures of their teenage years.
Final Grade: A
Until next time,