Welcome to the Jo March Appreciation Society!
The girl must be aching from carrying the entirety of Little Women on her shoulders.
Little Women is the coming-of-age story of four sisters – Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy March – during the American Civil War. Once rich and now living on a modest income, each of the March sisters wants more than their circumstances allow: to be an artist; a writer; an actress; a pianist and ultimately to find independence. However, the girls soon find that winning a suitable husband seems to be an inevitable part of ‘success’.
“I’d rather take coffee than compliments just now.”
Undoubtedly, Little Women is a powerful story for its time. At a point when the everyday lives of ordinary women seemed socially ‘unimportant’, Louisa May Alcott’s novel gave those women a voice. It was also refreshing to read a classic novel where the main character isn’t obsessed with finding love. Instead, our girl Jo is a tomboy writer who couldn’t give a shit about what boys think of her.
But while Jo’s character is brilliant, she isn’t enough to make me enjoy this book entirely.
“…in the silence that followed, the sincerest prayer she had ever prayed left her heart, without words; for in that sad, yet happy hour, she had learned not only the bitterness of remorse and despair, but the sweetness of self-denial and self-control; and led by her mother’s sweet hand she had drawn nearer to the Friend who welcomes every child with a love stronger than that of any father, tenderer than any mother.”
Just me, or is that a little too much??
Maybe I’m being cynical, but after a few chapters it all becomes a bit saccharine and the constant life lessons get bogged down in Christian dogma. It felt like every chapter ended in the same kind of way, with Marmee letting her daughters know that even though they can be selfish and petty sometimes, it’s all okay because Gods love will indisputably prevail over absolutely everything ever.
I also found it kind of annoying that while Alcott herself was tremendously independent and chose not to marry, the same can’t be said for her little women.
And I hate to say it, but Greta Gerwig’s 2019 film adaptation really is better than the book:/
Little Women gets three stars – all three are for Jo and that’s that on that.
Read the novel for yourself: https://whatlilyread.com/2wm6
As always, if anyone has any recommendations please let me know!