Book review: Little Women

By Louisa May Alcott

Synopsis: Meg is the eldest and on the brink of love. Then there’s tomboy Jo who longs to be a writer. Sweet-natured Beth always puts others first, and finally there’s Amy, the youngest and most precocious. Together they are the March sisters. Even though money is short, times are tough and their father is away at war, their infectious sense of fun sweeps everyone up in their adventures — including Laurie, the boy next door. And through sisterly squabbles, their happy times and sad ones too, the sisters discover that growing up is sometimes very hard to do. Based on Louisa May Alcott’s childhood, this lively portrait of nineteenth-century family life possesses a lasting vitality that has endeared it to generations of readers.

How did this book end up in my hands? I have read the Italian translation of this classic in my teens. I had received it as parting gift from a beloved teacher on my last day at primary school. I have more recently read it in English for the first time thanks to a serialisation on The Pigeonhole.

Was it a page-turner? I made sure I read every daily instalment as planned but I struggled. I didn’t want to lag behind but I would have preferred a slower reading pace. I’m afraid that – what I remember as a very special book – my grown-up self found a rather annoying and heavy exercise in preachiness. 

Having read the synopsis, did the book meet my expectations? Even though I had already read the book, my expectations were crushed. Perhaps it is not wise to re-read childhood favourites as an adult.

Did I like the ending? [no spoilers] Yes, it’s a very sombre ending, much in keeping with the rest of the novel.

Three words to describe it. Preachy. Quaint. Idyllic.

Do I like the cover? There are so many editions of this book and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a cover I didn’t like!

Have I read any other books by the same author? No, and I’m unsure whether I’d like to. I am curious though.

Will I be recommending this book? Despite my slight falling out of love with it, yes, I’d still recommend reading it. If you take all the ‘sermons’ with a pinch of salt, it’s an incredibly heart-warming tale of familial love and friendship.

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