Book review of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott was originally published in two volumes in 1868 and 1869, on request from Alcotts publisher. According to a few quick searches online, Alcott based the girls and their lives on her siblings and herself.
Other fragments of research tell me, that she wasn’t exactly enjoying the stories too much herself, but wrote it for her publisher because they needed something for young girls. (Google it if you want to read up on it a bit, it’s actually pretty interesting).
*Warning: Don’t read this review if you really love “Little Women”
“Grown-up Meg, tomboyish Jo, timid Beth, and precocious Amy. The four March sisters couldn’t be more different. But with their father away at war, and their mother working to support the family, they have to rely on one another. Whether they’re putting on a play, forming a secret society, or celebrating Christmas, there’s one thing they can’t help wondering: Will Father return home safely?”
Text above borrowed from Amazon
Looking at Goodreads and Instagram, and generally asking other people, it seems like I’m one of the very few, who aren’t head over heels in love with “Little Women”. (Busted: I’m not super active on Goodreads). It’s a classic and no doubt skillfully written, with lots of pretty sentences and scenery. I had “Little Women” sitting nicely on my shelf with my other “Puffin in Bloom” books and thought I might as well read it.
The “Puffin in Bloom” book-set is seriously lovely and I enjoy looking at them whenever I glance at my shelves. You can get your own set (or just one book) on Amazon if you think “Little Women” or one of the other three books might be something for you!
I respect that many fans of e.g. Jane Austen or the Brontë sisters, will be all over “Little Women” and loving it too. The thing is, that those types of stories and literary works are not my favorites. At all. Let me tell you why.
The young ladies
The four young ladies in the story are all very cute and different. But to such an extreme sometimes that they just seem incredibly flat and stereotyped. Jo is the most well-rounded character and I enjoyed reading her scenes and experiences the most. With the exception of the latter scenes, in which romance is cooking for all the girls. I just never really actually ‘liked’ any of them that much. I don’t trust that it’s to do with the time period in “Little Women” being in the mid-/late 1800s. I’ve read pioneer stories about little girls like Little House on the Prairie and found it much more interesting.
Love stories and lectures
Also, a thing that really does not sit well with me when I’m reading is religion. Not in the way it’s used in “Little Women” at least. I’ve read plenty of other books where the presence of religion adds to the plot and excitement etc. But closing almost every chapter with a lecture in “proper behavior for young women” including positioning a God as the one and true friend and savior. I’m sorry but I do not respond well to that, never mind what I’m spiritually aligned with. It’s fine that the characters develop a spirituality and relationship to whichever God they like. But the readers shouldn’t be lectured. Big nope for me.
I didn’t care for all the romances. Only one of them felt slightly plausible and realistic. I disliked all the men/boys/love-interests, except one of them. It reminded me of Jane Austen style-wise (even though I’ve only seen one movie and read zero books). Austen is not exactly my favorite material so this book is not a great experience for me either.
I’m sure people who love Jane Austen and all the romances and characters who endure hardships in a much noble way, will love “Little Women”. For me, it might have been a better experience if the girls each had their own book, from their respective points of view.
Little Women and feminism
I’d like to just make a quick note that “Little Women” isn’t a full-on horrendous book. Even though it annoyed me so much at times. But the girls are still considerate, struggling, hardworking and caring young women. They aren’t scared of acting the way they feel like acting, for most of the time and that’s nice. All the relations described in the book, apart from the romances, feel real too. Like the bond between a mother and her daughters, between siblings, between kid-friends, between young and old.
Was that it?
I didn’t like it, even though it’s a classic. I had to google Louisa May Alcott afterwards and when I found out that she might even not have liked to write it at all, well. Then I don’t feel bad about not enjoying it that much. I’d give it a 3/6 stars if I had to. Just because it’s skillfully crafted and made me cry once.
Now it’s time to hear your opinion! Have you read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott? How did it make you feel? Leave a comment below!
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