Read of the Week: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Recalling a favourite Childhood classic, Reader Leader Pamela provides our Read of the Week, choosing Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

‘I know they will be loving children to you, fight their bosom enemies bravely, and conquer themselves so beautifully, that when I come back to them I may be prouder than ever of my little women’.

I first read Little Women as a young girl and found myself wonderfully transported in my imagination into the lives of Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. The story begins with Jo lamenting the fact that ‘Christmas won’t be Christmas without presents’ and Beth reminding her that ‘We’ve got father and mother, and each other anyhow’. The author carefully conveys the uniqueness of each girl’s personality. Meg, concerned with propriety and yet with her warm, motherly nature; Jo with her ‘boyishness’, straightforward attitude to life and impulsiveness; Beth with her shy, gentle, timid qualities and Amy, the youngest, with her love of art and wanting to follow her older sisters.

Their father, Mr. March, experienced a ‘reverse of fortune’ which has left the family in a financially poorer condition than before and, since he is now away serving in the civil war, they have had to make adaptations in their lifestyle to accommodate their new position. When it was suggested that one of the girls be adopted in order to ease the burden, the Marches said ‘We can’t give up our girls for a dozen fortunes’. It is this sense of a deep love for one another that runs throughout the book and their contentment and acceptance of their situation.

The novel takes us on an intriguing journey through the lives of the March sisters over the period of a year and gives us a touching and humorous insight into the events that fill their lives. As Christmas draws near the following year and they reflect together on all that has happened Mrs March observes ‘The joys came close upon the sorrows this time, and I rather think the changes have begun’.

For me it is a reminder that through the ebb and flow of life it is relationships that ground us and provide the stability for which we all strive.

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