Little Women (Oxford Children's Classics)
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240 of 255 people found the following review helpful
on October 18, 2009
Like the previous reviewer, I was surprised to find that he book I had been occasionally rereading for over 50 years was NOT the original novel. My own copy, much loved and well thumbed, has been with me since I was a ten year old. I bought the Kindle version just to have it in my portable library, since I thought I knew it almost by heart. To my surprise, when I started looking it over, I found that the book was not the same at all. My original copy must have been "modernized" at some point. All of the familiar passages were there, but there was a great deal that I didn't remember reading before. Some of that was a specifically Victorian kind of moralizing, but there was also some expansion of the story.. I'm not sure that I would have appreciated it all when I was younger, but I found it a delight to read now, as an example of a book of its times. Now I'm going to download the rest of the Alcott catalogue and see how it compares to the books I thought were the originals when I read them many years ago. This was still an exemplary book. It will always be one of the classics.
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149 of 161 people found the following review helpful
on March 15, 2009
I am a 14-year-old girl and just got around to reading Little Women about a year ago. It is a great American classic written by Louisa May Alcott. It is about the four March sisters: Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. They live in New England during the Civil War. They are poor, but they try to make the best of it as they grow and learn. We follow them through good times and bad as they, with help from Marmee and Laurie (their next-door neighbor), bear their own unique burdens. Meg's is poverty, Jo's is her temper, Beth's burden is not being able to play on a piano, and Amy's is her unaristocratic nose. (as funny as that sounds) You'll fall in love with Jo's oddities just as much as with Beth's gentil manners. It is a great book that everyone should read!
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281 of 311 people found the following review helpful
on September 16, 2005
I was so, so looking forward to reading "Little Women" to my daughter, so she could be caught up in it as I was at an early age. I particularly chose the "Whole Story" edition because of its broad margins, easy-to-scan pages, and charming illustrations and margin notes that add historical texture to the story.

Imagine my shock to discover that at the end of THIS edition, Jo has not written a book, Amy has not gone off to Europe, Professor Baer has not made an appearance of any kind and....you'll never believe this....Beth is still carrying on a conversation (I'm trying not to spoil the plot of the real thing here).

That's because, apparently, "Little Women" was initially published in two parts ("Little Women" and "Good Wives"), which are generally published as the same book. Whole Story has chosen to stop at the half-way point, so much of the story you remember, loved, cried, and laughed over is just not here.

Imagine getting only the first half of Tom Sawyer...leave him stranded on the island forever!

I feel completely conned. It's a five-star story - make that maybe even a seven-star story - but it's a one-star edition.
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83 of 89 people found the following review helpful
on January 16, 2010
Please don't misunderstand me...I am NOT disparaging the original story of Little Women. The one star rating is for this particular edition of the book. I have loved this book all my life and having worn out my childhood copy, was hoping to get a new one. An UNABRIDGED copy!! This is not the original...words and whole phrases have been changed and added to this copy! If you, like I was, are looking for an original, untouched, UNABRIDGED copy of Little Women then bypass this edition!! I cannot even begin to tell you how disappointed I was!! I will be returning this copy and continue my search for a REAL copy of Little Women that hasn't had words changed, modernized, or "dumbed down"!!
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92 of 105 people found the following review helpful
Louisa May Alcott wrote many books, but "Little Women" retains a special place in the heart of American literature. Her warmly realistic stories, sense of comedy and tragedy, and insights into human nature make the romance, humor and sweet stories of "Little Women" come alive.

The four March girls -- practical Meg, rambunctious Jo, sweet Beth and childish artist Amy -- live in genteel poverty with their mother Marmee; their father is away in the Civil War. Despite having little money, the girls keep their spirits up with writing, gardening, homemade plays, and the occasional romp with wealthier pals. Their pal, "poor little rich boy" Laurie, joins in and becomes their adoptive brother, as the girls deal with Meg's first romance, Beth's life-threatening illness, and fears for their father's safety.

The second half of the book opens with Meg's wedding (if not to the man of her dreams, then to the man she loves). Things rapidly go awry after the wedding, when Laurie admits his true feelings to Jo -- only to be rejected. Distraught, he leaves; Amy also leaves on a trip to Europe with a picky old relative. Despite the deterioration of Beth's health, Jo makes her way into a job as a governess, seeking to put her treasured writing into print -- and finds her destiny as well.

There's a clearly autobiographical tone to "Little Women." Not surprising -- the March girls really are like the girls next door. Alcott wrote them with flaws and strengths, and their misadventures -- like Amy's embarrassing problem with her huge lobster -- have the feeling of authenticity. How much of it is real? A passage late in the book portrays Alcott -- in the form of Jo -- "scribbling" down the book itself, and getting it published because it feels so real and true.

Sure, usually classics are hard to read. But "Little Women" is mainly daunting because of its length; the actual stories flow nicely and smoothly. Don't think it's just a book for teenage girls, either -- adults and boys can appreciate it as well. There's something for everyone: drama, romance, humor, sad and happy endings alike.

Alcott's writing itself is nicely detailed. While certain items are no longer in common use (what IS a charabanc anyway?), Alcott's stories themselves seem very fresh and could easily be seen in a modern home. And as nauseating as "heartwarming" stories sometimes are, these definitely qualify. Sometimes, especially in the beginning, Alcott is a bit too preachy and hamhanded. But her touch becomes defter as she writes on.

Jo is the quintessential tomboy, and the best character in the book: rough, gawky, fun-loving, impulsive, with a love of literature and a mouth that is slightly too big. Meg's love of luxury adds a flaw to the "perfect little homemaker" image, and Beth just avoids being shown as too saintly. Amy is an annoying little brat throughout much of the first half of the book, but by her teens she's almost as good as Jo.

"Little Women" is one of those rare classic novels that is still relevant, funny, fresh and heartbreaking today. Louisa May Alcott's best-known novel is a magnificent achievement.
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2008
I bought this perennial favorite to add to my barely-started collection of these tiny Collector's Library books (sadly, B&N discontinued publication of these). I love that it's small and hardcover- perfect for traveling- especially for long hours on the plane or whatnot.
I was a bit disappointed to find that this book contains only part I of Little Women, ending with Chapter 23 ("Aunt March Settles the Question"). It does not have Good Wives (aka part 2 of Little Women). Luckily, I have what I call my "home copy" of the book which has both parts...so I don't feel like I've made a mistake in purchasing this one. But I thought I'd let you know this book only features part I so that you know what to expect!
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
I first read Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women" the summer between 4th and 5th grades. I was absolutely riveted by the story and characters and clearly remember sitting on the porch steps, my nose in the book. I cried when I reached the conclusion, because I was afraid that I had just read the best book in the world, and that I would never find anything else as good. The local librarian convinced me otherwise. I cannot recommend this novel highly enough - for people of all ages. It will always have a special place in my heart.

Ms. Alcott writes about four young women, living in New England, during a period of much strife in America - the Civil War. They are self sufficient, creative and well educated, and each chooses a different life path, traditional and non. Considering the period when the book was written, the author's views on opportunities open to females, restricted though they were by society, is refreshing and liberating. Of course, this was not my focus as a nine year-old. The novel is long, but that never bothered me as a young girl, or much later when I reread it. I didn't want the story to end, actually.

Sisters Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March and their beloved Marmee, (who offers her daughters guidance, comfort and unconditional love), learn to live in genteel poverty while their father, a doctor, is away treating wounded soldiers. This beautifully written classic, chronicles the girls' adolescence through womanhood, with all their trial, tribulations, and joys.

Much of the novel focuses on Jo, the second daughter, and a gifted writer. She is very much a tomboy, and an avid reader who writes plays which the girls act-out with delight and exuberance. When they meet their new next-door neighbor, the wealthy, lonely Theodore Laurence, (called Laurie), they befriend him and invite him to become the only male member of their exclusive theater ensemble. Laurie becomes an important person in all of their lives, and the March family in his. Margaret, (Meg), the oldest, is quite lovely - a young woman with traditional values and tastes. Sensitive Elizabeth, (Beth), is the most fragile sister -quiet, caring and timid. And Amy, the youngest, is a gifted artist, with a tremendous sense of self-importance.

Together they cope with their father's absence and their fear for his safety, severe illness in the family, a death, lack of money precluding many of life's small luxuries, romance, love, marriage and many glorious adventures. In the second part of the novel, Meg marries, Jo's writing becomes a priority, as does Amy's art. During a time of impoverishment, they learn how good it feels to give to those who are much needier than themselves. This aspect of the book is very moving. Ms Alcott brings her characters to life on the page. All of them, even minor personages, are extremely well developed.

"Little Women" was first published in two parts in 1868 and 1869. The author drew from her own childhood experiences to dramatize the lives of the March family. The character "Marmee" is based on her own mother, Abigail May, (Abba), Alcott, whom she described as having: "A great heart that was home for all." Like Marmee, Abba was loving and passionate about women's rights, temperance, and abolition. A truly compelling and wise novel!

Anne K. Phillips, associate professor of English and assistant head of the English department at Kansas State University, is co-editor of the Norton Critical Edition of "Little Women" and "The Louisa May Alcott Encyclopedia," along with Gregory Eiselein, professor and director of graduate studies in English at Kansas State.

Phillips was awarded a University Small Research Grant in January 2002 to examine the first editions of "Little Women" at the Houghton Library at Harvard University, in connection with the development of the Norton Critical Edition.

This edition also provides the authoritative, accurate text of the first edition (1868-69) of "Little Women," accompanied by textual variants and explanatory annotations. Backgrounds and Contexts" includes a wealth of archival materials, among them previously unpublished correspondence and Alcott's own precursors to the novel. Twenty nineteenth-century reviews provide critiques and seven modern essays represent a variety of critical theories used to read and study the novel. A Chronology and Selected Bibliography are also included.

This is an outstanding edition and the additional academic information makes for richer reading and study. The editing is first-rate and each edition is printed on acid-free paper. Makes a wonderful addition to any library.

JANA
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67 of 77 people found the following review helpful
on December 1, 2005
Sure the story is great (as it would be with any version) and this version does have the nice print and book mark, however, the advertising suggested to me, at least, that there would be several illustrations. There were none except silly chests with each little woman's name engraved on them at the start of each chapter.

Do not select this book if you are looking for an *illustrated* version. The Illustrated Junior Library version is well illustrated and at least as high quality a printing.

By the way, read the sales copy above to see how misleading it is. Just for that reason, consumers should eschew this version, and Amazon should have them change it.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on November 25, 2005
As an unabridged edition, all of Alcott's words are there. The narrator, Sandra Burr, takes us through the classic work in a style that takes the listener inside the story. Voices for the different characters are all created, but never in a melodramatic fashion. Listening to the story is like watching a fine and faithful production
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on October 20, 2002
When people ask me how I became such an avid reader, my answer is because I read Little Women in High School. This timeless classic of four sister growing up during the Civil War is my all time favorite book and I do not even know how many times I have read it. I treasure my copy of this book and it is one I could never part with.
Little Women is a coming of age story about four sisters Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy, and it always amazed me how Marmee would sit back and let them learn life's lessons and always find the right words to say to each of them afterward. Family values and morals as well are hard lessons to teach but through love and understanding they all learn.
Jo is my favorite character, she is so vibrant and full of life and the character based on Louisa May Alcott herself. My favorite movie version of this movie is the 1933 version with Katherine Hepburn as Jo, she truly captured Jo's spirit.
This story has been read by many generations and I'm sure that there will be many more generations enjoying the story of Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy for many many years to come.
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