BOOK REVIEWS

The Annotated Little Women (The Annotated Books) Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2018-12-08 
Review Score: 5 out of 5 star From 0 user ratings
ISBN:0393072193
LANGUAGE:English

"Look, I'm going to be brutally honest here: I read this when I was about 10 and I quite enjoyed it. But reading it at the age of 33? OH MY GOD, THIS WAS THE MOST SACCHARINE SWEET, INTOLERABLE TWADDLE I'VE EVER HAD THE MISFORTUNE OF READING.

All four of the girls are so ridiculously perfect that even when they make the tiny little mistakes that are painted as monumental fuck ups in the book, they're instantly fixed with a sweet smile or a sermon from their mother about women needing to control their anger, or remembering how NICE it is to be poor.

As the girls get older, they become slightly less insufferable but I gave zero fucks about any of their romantic relationships and I just wanted (view spoiler)" said.

"Little Women is the story of March girls - Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy and spans from their teens to adulthood, matrimony and motherhood. Modeled after her family, Alcott weaves a charming story with a truthful and accurate account of human characters and human relationships. This realistic approach so sincerely done has captured the hearts of millions of readers across the globe and throughout centuries to become one of the most enduring classics.

These four sisters are very different from each other. But the sisterly love and the family bond which is firmly instilled in their hearts by their wise and kind mother makes them close and united. The girls are not perfect; they have their virtues as well as flaws. But the readers fall in love with them because they feel real. Their characters develop through the book and once carefree girls become responsible and dutiful “little women”. I first read this in my teens and loved Jo more than others. Her tomboyish ways resembled me and I found a comrade in her. But this time around, I can safely say that I learned to love them all, though a slight partially still remains for Jo.

Although the story mainly revolves around the March girls, Little Women is not a “girlish” book. It is rather a “domestic” book full of morals and life lessons. The insightful advice which are thrown throughout really do benefit the reader of any age. Most of these things were really overlooked in my first read, for I took it for a mere romance. But the depth of the book pleasantly surprised me this time around.

In all my love for March girls, I shouldn’t forget their “dashing young neighbour”, Laurie. This headstrong, quick tempered and moody boy really added the much needed male contrast to the dominating female characters. As was with the girls, author takes care to develop Laurie’s character too from the willful boy to a patient and responsible young man.

In my first read, I was disappointed that Laurie and Jo were not united as I hoped. But after this read I feel Alcott did right by coupling Laurie with Amy and Jo with Professor Bhaer. Overall I believe Alcott matched the couples well taking in to consideration their vibrant personalities.

With its beautiful prose, charming story, realistic and compelling characters, Little Women is a complete work in itself. Even with my disappointment, I remember liking this book very much. However, this second read clearly showed what a rare piece of classic this book is; and I couldn’t help but to fall in love with it deeply and dearly.
" said.

" my ship sank to Dead Sea levels and now im salty af

3.5 stars? 4 stars? who knows?

all I know is that im deleting chapter 46 and while we're at it I might as well also delete chapters 35, 40 and 41

so please do me all a favour and rip out those chapters from your copies thanks

mini-review to come maaaaaaaaaaaybe

-----
we're just going to ignore the fact that I already have a classic on my 'currently reading' shelf and that it's been there for about 2 months

buddy read with the founder of the 'we love coffee' fanclub >:)
" said.

"Updated 8/26/2016 - Update at end

So, this is going to be my most confusing review to date and I am going to need some help from people who read this, so please reply if you know! (see below)

I read this for my Completest Book Club. I am glad I did because it is a classic I hear about all the time. If you take the Never-ending Book Quiz on Goodreads, it seems like every other question is about Little Women. While for me this book was just okay, I can see why it is a classic and enjoyed by many.

My confusion is this. I am only about 50% of the way through my audio copy of Little Women. As I was posting my status update last night I was noticing some comments that led me to believe I am now in what is considered the second book "Good Wives". My audiobook does not say anything, other than that I am in Part 2. In doing some research, I found that frequently audiobooks combine the first two books. My goal was only to read Little Women, so if I am truly in book 2, I am ready to stop.

See spoiler for details about where I am: (view spoiler)" said.

" Knjiga moje mladosti :) Ah, kako smo je svi gutali :) " said.

"I was given this more than 30 years ago, and it never appealed, but I gave it a go when it was selected by my book group.

As most people know, it's Louisa May Alcott's semi-autobiographical account of four teenage sisters growing up in slight poverty, while their father is away at war.

The opening words alerted me to the tone: "'Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without any presents'... 'I don't think it's fair for some girls to have plenty of pretty things, and other girls to have nothing at all.'" Despite this, they are virtuous and generous girls (albeit, each has a little quirk: Jo is a tomboy, Amy a bit prim etc). If that doesn't tug at the heart strings enough, it is peppered with sentimentality, such as "Very few letters were written in those hard times that were not touching, especially those which fathers sent home." and "Tell us another story, mother; one with a moral". Too much cheese/saccharine for my taste, so I gave up 1/3 of the way through.

The book is of its time (Victorian), but, perhaps because it was written for young adults, there is a simplicity of language and structure that exacerbates the self-conscious self-righteousness of it. It lacks the depth, breadth and moral grey areas of more adult writers of the time, such as Dickens. That may be an unfair comparison, as he was writing for a different audience, but it nevertheless reflects my reaction.



" said.

"There will be spoilers.

Now, if she had been the heroine of a moral story-book, she ought at this period of her life to have become quite saintly, renounced the world, and gone about doing good in a mortified bonnet, with tracts in her pocket. But, you see, Jo wasn't a heroine; she was only a struggling human girl, like hundreds of others, and she just acted out her nature, being sad, cross, listless, or energetic, as the mood suggested.

I first read this book as a tween, and had a real love-hate reaction to it, love of the first half, and I pretty much hated the last half. Beth's death made me cry, and I loathed sad books passionately, but most of all I loathed Professor Bhaer, for two reasons. The minor one was that he was ugly and forty, which was utterly disgusting to me, as my grandparents then were in their forties. Euw! But the real reason I felt utterly betrayed by Alcott was because my own limited experience laid a palimpsest over the story, distorting Alcott's meaning. Well, but even if I hadn't been twitted by the well-meaning adults in my life to stop writing silly fairy tales and concentrate on Real Life if I must scribble stories, I could not have taken her meaning, as my lack of life experience was exactly what she was talking about in those scenes.

I read the book again at another period of my life when I probably shouldn't have, as the sorrowful parts overshadowed the rest.

Then I recently reread it, and hey, it was a completely different book from the one I'd read as a kid. Funny, that, how much a text changes over the decades. To me, that is the sign of a great book.

The first thing I noticed was the humorous skill of the narrator, who sometimes, in true nineteenth century fashion, comes right out and talks to the reader, then vanishes again, and lets the characters talk and think for themselves.

I saw this time how skillfully Alcott set up Amy's and Laurie's romance. How splendidly Alcott painted Laurie's and Jo's friendship, and her courage in maintaining that hey, a man and a woman really can be good buddies. Yeah, Laurie goes through some heart-pangs, but he gets over it, and finally gets some emotional growth while being thwarted for the first time in a life of getting pretty much what he wanted all the time. There were occasional falters that showed the author's hand. Like I found it hard to believe that Laurie, as a teenage boy, would moralize quite so much over Meg prinking at her first party. I could totally see him being uncomfortable, but that's a small thing.

As a kid I'd been bored stiff by Amy's and Laurie's courtship, but this time, I loved the images of Europe, and appreciated how skillfully Alcott had brought the two through the years to their shared delights. I found their courtship one of the strengths of the book.

And then there was Professor Bhaer. The scene where he rejoices in Jo's giving up her writing after her humiliation over his opinion of trashy stories that I took as such a betrayal as a teen read utterly differently to me now. What he resented was Jo pandering to the modern taste for sex, violence, and melodrama, especially when she knew so little about sex and violence. Jo was perpetrating cliches, empty calories, because it was easy money, and he thought she could do better.

I had to laugh when I recollected that not so long ago I critiqued a teenage-written manuscript, suggesting that that writing about forty-year-old married people might wait until more was known about what marriage actually meant. What I had taken as a tween (because sex went right over my head) was that Professor Bhaer was anti-fantasy. Wrongo, but I didn't have the life experience to see where he was going about lack of life experience.

As for his being forty, that seems to have been a nineteenth century tic. Hello Mr. Knightley! And not just in fiction--just a couple days ago I was reading Horatio Nelson's dispatches. In winter of 1800 he is smirking about Sir John Acton, well into his sixties, marrying his thirteen year old niece. Smirking, not exclaiming in horror and disgust, the way we would now.

In short, Jo and the Professor's romance took on all the charm that had completely passed me by.

Meanwhile there were all the old scenes I'd remembered so well, still funny, and poignant, and beautiful. Alcott does get preachy, but she's aware of it; at one point, after encouraging young people not to make fun of spinsters, she gets on with the story after wondering if her audience has fallen asleep during her little homily.

These homilies all point toward love as well as acceptance, faith as well as resignation. Caring for one's fellow-being, whether it be a poor person, as the dying Beth made little gifts for poverty-stricken children and dropped them out of the window just to see smiling faces. There is so much beauty in this book, and so much appreciation of beauty, as well as illustration of many shades of love.

It was also interesting to get visual overlays, for last autumn I'd visited Orchard House, where May (Amy) had drawn all over the walls in her room and a couple of other rooms, carefully preserved, where Jo's room was full of books, overlooking the garden; between two tall windows was the writing desk her father had made for her. Beth's piano. You could feel wisps of the love the family had for one another, which Alcott had put into the book, along with her personal struggles to be a better person; she gave her alter ego, Jo, a happier ending than she actually managed to get. (And though she didn't know it at the time, a happier ending for her artist sister May, as well.)

I won't wait so long for my next reread.
" said.

" Awesome book!! I love Amy and Laurance " said.

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