Book Commentary: Little Women

While my personal original writing creativity is at a low point, I haven’t neglected my movie watching or my reading from the book list. A note about the book list… like most of the “must read before you die” lists, this one is arbitrary. It includes books for children, young adults, and adults and span the centuries regarding publication dates. Are they relevant? Why should we read books that were written a hundred years ago? Why do we read fiction at all?

Admittedly, I don’t have answers other than to say that I love reading. I love immersing myself in other times and places and pulling out what is relevant to me today. Isn’t it all about the human condition and our common humanity?

LittleWomen7With that introduction, I recently finished Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. This is a book that I thought I might have read, but turns out I had not. I could, on trivia night, name the 4 March sisters, but that doesn’t really count. So, quickly, what’s it about?

Coming of age novel Little Women tells the story of 4 sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy, beginning during the Civil War when they are 12-16 years old, until they are married young women. The sisters have very distinct personalities, and their lives embody the themes of work, ambition, obligation to family and love. As a writer herself, Miss Alcott presented these young women in a pro-feminist light, extolling the virtues of hard work and contributing to family and society. Still, marriage was the end game.

I enjoyed how each girl explored her identity as she grew older, and how self-aware they were, especially Jo. The girls were allowed and even encouraged to feel their feelings, and to share them.  Jo, the second to the oldest sister and a favorite character to women around the world, confesses how she struggles to control her anger, and Mrs. March gives an excellent and relevant anger management lesson.

You don’t know, you can’t guess how bad it is! It seems as if I could do anything when I’m in a passion. I get so savage I could hurt anyone and enjoy it. … [Jo]

You think your temper is the worst in the world, but mine used to be just like it. [Mrs. March, p. 106, chapter 8]

This is a long novel but eminently readable with many (mostly) short chapters. I would challenge you to read it with an eye to both how different life is for women today, and also how similar.


On a scale of 1 (the negative end) to 5 (it depends) to 10 (the positive end), my conclusion about Little Women:

Readable: 10

Enjoyable: 8

Does it deserve to be on “must read” reading lists: 10

Am I glad I read it: 10

Would I read it again: 5 (maybe)

Would I recommend it: 10

Score: 8.8

Book Bingo: Read a book featuring Strong Familial Relationships

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