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Little Women (Illustrated Originals) Hardcover – 2012
"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Learn more
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In an age of easily digested and mass-produced books with weak characters and plot, "Little Women" is a stand-out that resists the passage of time for its exemplary characters, theme of family unity, and love on so many different levels (friendship, familial, true love, and romantic love).
Readers today might find the writing and occasional chirpiness of the March sisters when faced with their poverty a bit difficult to relate to, but knowing stories of how my own mother and sisters faced the Depression and then WWII in the UK made me realise from an early age that trying to find things to rejoice in is essential to surviving tragedy and loss on a personal level.
The March sisters encapsulate female society in most countries even now, and are well-written individual characters, each with a different goal they wish to fulfil in life. The girls do not become career women, and their parents do preach the importance of family life and sacrifice, however, each one does what was expected of young girls at that time. Jo's daring in writing a sensationalist "man's" story and insisting on payment commensurate with a man was unheard of in those days and when one considers that women are still underpaid, it makes Jo's triumph still relative today. Amy's goal of being comfortably well-off is eventually tempered by her own personal sorrow at the poor health of her own little Beth, Meg wants to be a mother and wife, and she learns not to overachieve, and Beth who overcomes pathological shyness through her altruism and empathy for others and which leads to her death is still inspirational today.
My suggestion is that if you have a daughter, sister, granddaughter or friend, take turns reading it. It will improve your vocabulary, make you smile, and dear Beth's stoicism will bring a tear to your eye.
The Puffin Classics Hardcover edition has a beautiful purple cover design. The interior of the cover is bright pink and the font size is medium (so it's easy to read). Unfortunately, the quality of the paper is unsatisfactory, since it's the same quality of cheap, grey-beige paper used in mass market paperbacks, unbefitting such a pretty hardcover edition.
An introduction provides historical and biographical background to Alcott and the writing of the book. Also cool is the fact that Shealy uses Alcott's original publication text, which was edited when the book was brought out in a uniform edition several years later (this is the version most people have been reading since 1880; Alcott's publishers objected to the slang that had been used in the original version, such as "ain't," and "don't" rather than "doesn't" and corrected them, as well as fixing other descriptions--"stout" was removed from descriptions of both Mrs. March and Professor Bhaer, for example, with "tall" substituted); these changes are listed in an appendix. Absolutely worth the money!