I started reading Little Women on a day when I was feeling down and really needed something uplifting and inspiring to bring my thoughts up. The adventures and relationships of the four March girls was the perfect antidote to my desolate state. I read this book many years ago when I was a young teen, but it didn’t make a huge impression on me then. This time around I absolutely loved it and was instantly charmed by the story of the wonderful March family and their struggles and triumphs.

Most of you are probably familiar with the plot of Little Women so I won’t take your time by going into details. I had forgotten that it is published as one book today, but originally came out in two volumes. The first half of the book chronicles the lives of the March girls as young teens and children. Their father is away at war and they rely on their mother, Marmee, to lead the family. The second half of the book focuses on the sisters as wives and mothers. Though the entire novel is an outstanding account of their family, I think I enjoyed the first volume slightly more. It was more innocent, joyful and funny and didn’t involve the angst of love affairs and young marriage. It was nice to see the progression of the sisters’ characters and personalities through time, however, and the final scene of the book where the entire family gathers for a picnic is one of the loveliest scenes in literature and sums up their story very beautifully.

If I had a daughter I would encourage her to read Little Women. I think it is an exemplary book for young girls to read because it provides great role models for them and espouses values and character traits that I fear are not much admired these days. It may be idealistic, but I found it inspiring instead of discouraging. If you haven’t read this yet, or haven’t read it for many years, I would recommend it for those times when you feel sad or are in need of cheer. It is a really delightful tale and will warm your heart. It is a book I will re-read throughout my lifetime.

Have you read Little Women? Who is your favorite March sister?

24 Comments

  1. I always liked Jo. I never was happy with her for not loving Laurie though. It has been awhile since I read it though.

  2. That is a lovely edition. My copy was one of the books my mother held on to, hoping she would have a daughter to pass it on to, and between us we have reread it so many times that it is nearly worn out.

    You have caught what makes it so special beautifully.

    As a painfully shy child Beth was always my favourite, but nowadays my affections are more evenly divided.

  3. I agree with Marie on Jo – she was my favorite and I think she belonged with Laurie. Beth dying was one of my teariest episodes reading as a child – her death and Jack the dog’s death in the Little House series.

  4. I favor Jo and Beth. I love this book. 🙂

  5. I also love the book and enjoyed the film with Susan Sarandon and Clare Danes that was made some years ago. Jo is my favorite of the sisters, I just love her spirit. Both of my daughters have names from Little Women: One of my daughters is named Megan and we often call her Meg and the other one is Heather with a middle name of Beth. I gave them these names with Little Women in mind. I agree with your reader about Beth dying, what a sad scene. You have inspired me to reread this book!

    • I love the film with Susan Sarandon as Marmee, too! I’ve watched it many times. It is really neat that both of your daughters’ names are related to Little Women. Did you read the book with them when they were girls?

  6. I’m so glad that you enjoyed reading this again, and found new things to appreciate. I used to find Amy a little tiresome, but I’ve really come to appreciate how she grows in the book, and makes not just the best of things, but creates beauty in the process. Though of course I love bookworm Jo as well.

    I’m curious about the scissors on the cover – a reference to Jo’s hair, I wonder – or how the sisters are always sewing (working) ?

    • Thank you for helping to inspire my re-read, Lisa! I appreciated Amy also and loved how she progressed from a silly, selfish little girl to a thoughtful and elegant woman.
      I wonder about the scissors, too. I thought they were in reference to all of the sewing the girls do in the book – I didn’t even think about Jo’s hair!

  7. I loved this one too, I think I was about 10 when I first read it and 17 years later when I had a son I did suggest Laurie as a name for him. My husband wasn’t at all keen so after 5 days we settled on Duncan as a name for the baby – I still prefer Laurie!

  8. This is one I want to reread soon. Like you, I last read it when I was very young. Even though I feel like I know the story well from seeing the movie version several times, I have a feeling there are probably some details from the book that I’ve forgotten- like the entire second part! Beth was always my favorite because I played the piano like she did.

    • The second part is much more detailed in the book than in the movie. I enjoyed reading about Meg’s first years as a wife and mother and the drawn out courtship of Laurie and Amy. There’s so much that they couldn’t include in the film! I like Beth, but I feel like we really don’t get to know her as well as the other sisters.

  9. I re read it last winter and loved it so reading this post brings it back. I’m not sure who I am – maybe a little Meg with a hint of Amy?

  10. Love Little Women, I recently started reading it again and it was just so lovely, interesting enough that you speed through it without really realising. Is the old second volume you refer to Good Wives? I’m confused now because I have that one and wasn’t aware I was so old!

    • It is The Good Wives, but they started publishing both volumes together in 1880. You’re not old- just lucky enough to have separate volumes! 😉

  11. I haven’t read this in years — I think I’m going to schedule it for my book group this winter. I don’t even remember the March sisters very distinctly, except Jo and Beth. I’d like to think I’m plucky like Jo.

    I wish I could get my daughters to read it, but if I like something, it must be boring, right? But that beautiful Penguin clothbound might entice them to read it. . . . is that bribery?

    • It would be a great book club choice!
      Maybe your daughters are past the age of reading anything mom suggests? But I would still try to bribe them!

  12. I read this book this year as part of the Classics Club, and thought it was utterly charming, uplifting, and in fact rather inspirational. I agree if I had a daughter I would so encourage her to read this. My favourite sister was Amy because even though she could be silly and vain she worked so hard to become good and kind. Of all the sisters I think her tranformation was the biggest.

    • You’re so right about Amy! She truly improves her character over time and becomes such a caring and elegant woman. Her attractiveness to Laurie makes perfect sense to me.

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