Saturday, December 15, 2018

Little Women - Classics Review

Rating: Not for Me
Source: Purchased

Generations of readers young and old, male and female, have fallen in love with the March sisters of Louisa May Alcott’s most popular and enduring novel, Little Women. Here are talented tomboy and author-to-be Jo, tragically frail Beth, beautiful Meg, and romantic, spoiled Amy, united in their devotion to each other and their struggles to survive in New England during the Civil War.

Genre: Middle Grade - Classic

Why I Picked This Book:  Eight Cousins
and Jo's Boys were two of my favorite books as a kid but somehow I never read what I consider to be her most well known book.  

My Thoughts: 
Before starting this book I couldn't remember if I had read this one before or not.  I knew I had read Little Men and Jo's Boys was one of my favorites but pretty much everything I remember from Little Women itself could just have easily have come from the movie as the book.  After reading this I'm pretty sure I read about a third of it before I gave up.  To be honest that's kind of what I wanted to do this time around as well.

The story itself is fine.  The 4 sisters are different which provides some interesting lessons and story lines.  I also enjoyed seeing two very distinct levels of income with the wealthy Laurences and Moffetts against the very poor Marches and the even poorer Hummels.  I don't feel like many children's books really have that complexity and I liked that the good and bad of both are shown. I also liked the length over which the story took place and that we really get to see the girls grow up over the course of the book.

But there were a number of things that didn't work for me.  The main thing being that there is a lot of moralizing.  Pages and pages of it.  I can see why 9 year old me finally gave up on this one.  I expect most children's fiction from this time period to teach a lesson and I have reread other Alcott books as an adult and was not surprised to find that but it's almost overpowering in this book.  I think that's the primary reason why the book feels so long is because at least a third of it is lectures about being good and humble and other very good virtues that are talked about at length.  This may work if it was a one chapter a night bedtime story read but trying to read it in extended sittings got a bit tiresome.  Also, Amy is just the worst.

Part of my problem may have been that I have no childhood attachment to this book so I don't feel like I'm revisiting old friends like I do when I open an L.M. Montgomery novel.  Part of my problem may have been the sheer length of the novel which in my Kindle version was about 500 pages.  But whatever the issue this is one classic that didn't work for me as a child or an adult.  I am glad I read it but it definitely won't be a book I'll revisit.


  1. I'm not a fan of the writing style of the classics so I tend to avoid them! They just aren't for me personally.

  2. Great review! I have this book on my TBR shelf, but I’ve been putting it off because I hate preachy books. I can figure out the moral for myself. I don’t need the author to spell it out for me.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  3. Interesting, I did like Little Women as a young reader but not read it since. I suspect as there were so few books in my time I would like it anyway!

  4. I have never been tempted to pick this one up. I don't tend to get along with classics. I am sorry that this one didn't work for you better.

  5. I need to read this again. I read it twice as a younger teen. I don't think I would have cared for it at nine, either. Are you sure this was meant as Middle Grade? Aren't the characters older teens and early 20s for most of the story? I thought it was s coming of age story. Now I definitely want to re-read it. 📚

  6. I haven't reread the book but love the movie with Susan Surandon and Winona Ryder. I watched the first episode of the PBS mini series and need to finish it. I'm curious about the modern version that was in theaters.

  7. Funny. I tried reading this one several years ago but gave up on it early on. Still haven’t revisited it.