What I’ve been reading: Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott

Little Women

Louisa May Alcott

This review does contain spoilers – because I assume everyone has read Little Women.

This was a re-read for me. I was browsing the free list on the Kindle and it caught my eye. I remembered having enjoyed it at age 12, so much so that I read the whole lot from my school library (Little Men and Jo’s Boys).
I learned a hard lesson with this one. Some books are best left in childhood, where they can be remembered through the rosy-glass of nostalgia. If you’re feeling like you want to re-read Little Women – don’t. Scratch that itch by watching the movie instead.

My memory of the book was of the occurences in the story. What I had blotted out was the heavy-handed moralising (usually from ‘Marmee’) at the end of each episode. Now I’m not against books having a moral message or characters ‘learning a valuable lesson’ (after all character development is what stories are all about). But I am against a book taking its moral message in one hand, the back of your head in the other, and grinding the moral message into your face.

So the four girls grow up (well three of them do). They have the few personality traits that distinguish them sandpapered off by Marmee’s moralising. They end up married, each to the most appropriate husband. It’s like Jane Austen without the redeeming self-awareness, irony, or well-drawn characters.

One last chapter to this rant. What kind of idiot is Beth? I remember my least favourite character being Amy. Everybody hates Amy. Now it’s Beth. She feels like she’s probably going to die for about two years – but doesn’t say anything about it to her parents or a doctor or anyone who could do anything about it until it’s way too late. Why? Because she didn’t want to worry anyone. Because she never really made any plans fro her life. Seriously? FFS. Selfish, selfish idiot.

I liked: Ummmm. I’ve got nothing.

I disliked: See above.

Would I read it again? No. The damage is done.

Would I recommend to a friend? Only if they’re under 12.

Rating: 1/5 (Single point awarded for old time’s sake.)

What did you think of this book? Let me know in the comments.

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