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Little Women Paperback – November 29, 2014
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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.
One might expect the fanciful ways of this era to hold nothing relevant for today, but nothing could be further from the truth. Little Women transcends time with its message of faith, hope, courage, and love. The story is not just sentiment, but true to life, and there is much to encourage us to strive towards. I first read it as a teenager and loved every page. It is picturesque, sweet, funny, sad, and retains a sense of overall joy in this thing called Life, whether it is in a bygone era or the one in which we find ourselves.
I revisited it this summer, reading it through the eyes of life experience now, as well as through the eyes of having raised my own children and now being a grandmother to six. In reading it again, I found so very wisdom, kindness, enrichment...I saw new things that make even more sense now in this later season of life. Frankly, I did not want to get to the end. I highly recommend this book for young women for sure, but to anyone who wants to visit a kinder, gentler time where the virtues to be found in this life when we seek for them are always to be found. Little Women challenges me to keep this front and center.
It is not simply a child's classic but rather one that all ages can enjoy and read over and over