After finally finishing Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women for the first time as an adult, I am feeling rather “bi-polar” regarding my feelings for the book. In turn, it both delighted and irritated me. This was one of my favorite books as a child. In retrospect, I think I found it so endearing because (as the only child living with my grandmother) I longed to be a part of a family like the Marches. As a child, I don’t remember feeling the sometimes over-bearing morality of the novel, but only the lovely warmth exuded to me through the sister’s lives and adventures. At times, I still found this novel comforting. The sort of book that is best read aloud so the words can wash over you as you read. However, at other times I found myself rolling my eyes at the utter “sappiness” of it all. Even Beth’s death was sugar-coated for goodness sake. Perhaps this is just a testament to how times have changed since Book 1 of Little Women was first published in 1868 and Book 2 was published in 1869. After all, it was commissioned as a children’s book and children’s books at the time were mostly morality tales. As Jo says, when first trying to sell her work in NY: “but, Sir, I thought every story should have some sort of moral…” Little Women was also autobiographical in nature and proved a sharp contrast to the more racy adult stories that Louisa had previously been writing for various publications to earn her living. In Harriet Reisen’s biography, entitled Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women, Louisa is quoted as having said this about the novel: “Not a bit sensational, but simple and true, for we really lived most of it; and if it succeeds, that will be the reason.” It certainly did succeed.
|Louisa May Alcott
|Louisa May Alcott…Jo|
I have posted a list of 45 selections to begin my challenge. As the challenge moves along, I may elect to lengthen the list…perhaps to 100. A few books that I would have included are not listed because I have already read them (in the last couple years) for college courses I was taking: Robinson Crusoe…Daniel Defoe, The Scarlett Letter…Nathaniel Hawthorne, Emma…Jane Austen, The Red Badge of Courage…Stephen Crane, Uncle Tom’s Cabin…Harriet Beecher Stowe, The Awakening…Kate Chopin, East of Eden…John Steinbeck, and
A Prayer for Owen Meany…John Irving.