Little Women (Book) Review
I actually finished reading this book a few months ago but now feels like the right time to do a review with the new movie coming out.
What I have to say is that I did not expect I would like this book, so I did not read the blurb beforehand because I was sure that would put me off. I thought it would be well written but ultimately not for me. How could a book set in the late 19th Century about four women growing up essentially learning how to grow up to be good housewives hook me? Not to mention, emotional conflict is at a minimum (although it does amp up a bit at certain points) and there is no action to speak of.
That’s why I was surprised how much I enjoyed reading this book. All the characters who are supposed to be likeable are likeable with their own personalities, quirks and flaws that make them endearing.
This is a book that shouldn’t really work, especially in the modern age. The ideas are outdated and some of the aspects of life discussed are completely irrelevant today and yet it still seems to work. There are a lot of positive messages in the book, some of which are guilty of being rammed down the readers’ throat or being so overwhelmingly sweet that it could put some people off.
Jo March very quickly became one of my favourite literary characters of all time. Jo is the most ‘modern’ woman in this book with her goals very much her own rather than what is expected from her by society. Amy is the other character who has a separate interest as an artist.
Jo is a writer, cynical and a tomboy (no wonder I like her) who very much carves her own path throughout the book- she strays from the path she is expected to follow to become a ‘proper’ lady to do her own thing while the other girls speak of their desire to get married.
The other girls are more straightforward on the whole but they do have hobbies outside the norm of what they would need to be a good housewife.
As one of the only males in the book, Laurie comes across well as a boy who is polite as well as being confident and nervous at the same time. Jo and Laurie’s friendship is strong and it is nice that the book doesn’t descend into all four girls pining over him or into a soppy romantic novel.
The sweet nature of the story makes you think it is going one way but there are a few curveballs along the way. The bits that are dramatic are seriously gripping and even the small inconveniences that the characters face had me hoping they would succeed.
It's very fitting how Jo who aspires to write things has to decide between writing something popular or something from the heart. Being semi-autobiographical, long and without conflict, this book feels like something written from the heart by Alcott not worrying about writing something to please everyone although it seems to have done just that anyway.