Monday, March 14, 2011

Little Women

My mother and I enjoy watching old movies together. We would watch all the classics made into films or the MGM musicals with Gene Kelly dancing across the stage. It’s beautiful, romantic, and captures my attention completely. One such movie was Little Women. Not that 1994 version. Oh, no. I mean the 1949 film with June Allyson, Margaret O’Brien, and Elizabeth Taylor. It was then that I fell in love with the March girls and picked my favorites of the sisters (Jo and Beth respectably). But what about the book the movies were based on? We own a lovely hardcover with beautiful artwork from the Illustrated Junior Library that I have tried to read since childhood and yet, for whatever reason, I could never get past the first Christmas at the March’s.

Enter my lovely Kindle and I flew through the book. It’s lengthy, but not of the War and Peace sort. The book was so much like my beloved film! Or, well, vice versa. I try to read books prior to seeing the movie adaptation but it just didn’t happen that way. I don’t regret my first introduction to Little Women though. The book was more detailed while the movie only hit on major plot points.

I love the relationship of the sisters in this book. I can only read it with the knowledge of an outsider, I haven’t any siblings of my own, but I picture siblings acting much in this way. The arguments, occasional jealousy, one sibling connecting to another in a more specific way, and the bond that seems to never be broken. Each of the little women have a specific character trait. While Meg is the mature one, Jo the rebel, Amy the flirt, and little Beth the mother hen, I adored each character in their own way. However, as I mentioned before, I had my favorites.

I felt that I could identify with Beth’s comforting ways although she was the most heartbreaking of all characters (Yes, I am one of those girls who cries while reading books, especially if there is a dramatic scene). But Jo made me most happy. Her stubborn and powerful nature was something that I felt, or wished, reflected myself. Here is this woman who is going against the odds. She’s running around and acting much like a boy during a period of time where that wasn’t exactly expected of young ladies. I enjoy that she sticks to her opinions and doesn’t let others sway her.

The first half of the book, for me, was much more entertaining and a quick read than the last half of the book. I think part of that was because the sisters were more separated- all going their different paths and not corresponding with one another directly. So while the first part of the book was much about the sisters and the events of their lives as a whole, the second half of the book would focus on one girl with each chapter. So if I didn’t like a character as much as another I would drag through that portion of the book.

But I can’t complain much about the structure of the book. It did exactly what I hoped it would do: introduce characters you could identify with, show their up’s and down’s and not so good sides, and wrap up the story in a nice and complete way. You know what is going on in each of the girl’s lives and how they surpassed troubles. I really hate when books leave you hanging however this does not. It’s the type of novel I can picture myself sharing with a daughter, should I ever have one. A total ‘girls’ book but with the different personalities I think any girl could identify with at least one of the little women. I understand now why it’s such a classic and am pleased I finally got myself to read the book. I’ve been missing out on this book for years!

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