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Review: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Little Women is a novel by American author Louisa May Alcott (1832–1888) which was originally published in two volumes in 1868 and 1869. Alcott wrote the book over several months at the request of her publisher. The story follows the lives of the four March sisters—Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy—and details their passage from childhood to womanhood. It is loosely based on the lives of the author and her three sisters. Scholars classify it as an autobiographical or semi-autobiographical novel.

TW/CW: illness, death

Synopsis: 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?

Thoughts: For years I've put off reading this classic and I finally accomplished my goal of reading it before watching the 2019 film adaptation starring Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, and Eliza Scanlen as the March sisters. I'm sad to report this will not go down as one of my favorites. Altogether it was rather dull. Nothing much happened and when good bits did they were over so fast. I liked the idea of this family being so close and adaptable and imaginative, but it was written with so much filler that I found myself struggling to pick up and read at all. I contemplated DNF'ing it several times, but pushed through knowing it was now or never with this one.

The characters were complex and smart. Their development was specific to their personality and behavior, and their character arcs seemed natural. It did waffle on for large passages yet it still had a cozy vibe to it and I don't think I quite would have cared about the characters as much as I did, which wasn't much - if it wasn't such an endeavor. My favorite chapter was 38 when the mother is passing along marriage advice to one of her daughters and it felt so real and wise at the same time.

The plot had a good balance of light and dark topics and had undertones of religion, specifically Christianity thrown in for good measure. It was the writing which really bored me to tears. It was full of details and words, so many words. I don't need to know what every thing and every person looked like in every single scene. Let me imagine it myself a bit, no? As for the romance I have nothing to say other than I believe things would have been written differently had this been written today. Was I happy who wound up with who? No particularly, but I wasn't that invested in the first place.

Despite the reasons I didn't enjoy it I'd still recommend it. It's a classic beloved by so many readers young and old alike.

Rating: ★★★