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Little Women Paperback – January 11, 2012
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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.
It's written in an old-fashioned style, and a little harder to follow than some more modern literature, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Even the rhythm of the words takes you back to a sweeter simpler time which was in reality a very harsh time in American history. For the uninitiated, LW details the life of four teen-aged sisters in the Civil War Era. Aside from their father being away from home during the first part of the book the war is not a main topic. It's all about the relationships between these sisters, their mother, their neighbor and later their budding romances.
Take your time with this one. Read it slowly and savor.