I’ve procrastinated. I’ve put it off. I’ve looked at my poor, neglected blog and sighed. And then today, the internet stopped working. Again. (I am getting tired of this.) And this time it’s very inopportune—on a Sunday afternoon, which is a quiet time in my house and I like to waste time on the internet, writing emails, reading blog posts, and whatever else happens to strike my fancy. And I used to write blog posts on Sunday afternoons, back in the days when I had something planned for each week. So I decided to take this as a hint and sit down and finally write this thing that I was supposed to have done over two months ago when I finally finished reading Little Women.
But you see, I do not want to write a review. I do not like writing reviews, and am not good at it. (I’m not actually being serious there—it was just one of those inadvertent Jane Austen paraphrases. Mr. Knightley on Dancing this time. :P) I do not always dislike writing reviews, but I didn’t want to for this one. Besides, Little Women is a book there would be ten thousand reviews of scattered everywhere. It’s not as if you don’t know the story. (And if you don’t and you want to, just go look it up on Wikipedia or something.) So instead, I’m just going to talk about it, even though I don’t really know what to say, as I if I were emailing a friend. Goodness knows THAT’S easy enough. (I seem to remember getting out of writing a review this way before… yes indeed, I am repeating myself. Oh, well. Please do forgive my redundancy.) So this is NOT review… actually, if you don’t know the story, I wouldn’t recommend you read it because I might give things away.
So. Little Women is one of those classic books I’ve always intended to read, and have always be embarrassed to announce that I hadn’t yet done so when people would inquire. I mean, I heard about LW long before my interest in Jane Austen. Yet still I didn’t read it. I started it a few times. But there was always some reason not to read it… like the copy we have, for starters. A nice, old-fashioned looking, hardbound copy, which I started reading, and then checked the front to make sure it wasn’t abridged or anything… and it was. Bother. “Abridged for modern reading,” said it. (I think some stuff was just cut out, because the wording seemed authentic. And the funny thing is, the other Louisa May Alcott books in the set with it do not say they are abridged… oh well, don’t ask me.) And then I tried to get one from the library, but I did not like the copy. It had hideous illustrations and was large and thick and hard-cover, and I didn’t care for the font. So it went back the library and I continued reading whatever else I was reading at the time.
Along the way somewhere I was finally introduced to the story by watching a film of LW. I liked the story well enough (as I always knew I would), but I didn’t care for the movie itself. It was some 1970s version…one my mom got from the library. The actors were all too old and it was just generally annoying. Then I saw the version with Katharine Hepburn… yick. Finally my sister introduced me to the 1994 version, which is of course the best, but don’t worry, I always knew the book would be better…when is it not? Well, when it’s Mary Poppins. Ahem. Anyways.
I made a list at the beginning of this year, with “Must Reads,” “Should Reads,” and then a longer list of random ideas of things to read, and my goal was 30 books total. (That may sound pathetic, but I am a slow reader.) LW was actually on the “Should Read” list, whereas, say, North and South, which I still haven’t read but intend to later this year, was on the “Must Read.” But then my priorities were set straight by Amy. (Um, Amy Dashwood, not Amy March. Heehee.) I must confess that the amount she reads rather puts me to shame, and it was horrid never to have read LW when she had such a high opinion of it and practically knew it by heart and it was something I SHOULD have read ages ago. So I search Amazon for a copy I would like, looked up the ISBN on my library website, and got it. And started it. And finished it in June.
You may wonder why I am rambling on in this matter, and I shall tell you. It is because I still don’t really know what to write about the actual book itself. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it, and I’ll definitely read it again. It’s quite different from other things in that all this time passes in it and it doesn’t really have a particular plot. (I don’t think this is a bad thing, it just makes it hard to blog about.) And although Jo March is the main main character, all of the March girls have their own chapters in the book and all that, so it’s almost like there are four heroines. I would talk about the March girls, but I’m thinking about doing an entire post about them—or rather, how I connected with each of them in different ways. So I’ll save it.
Okay, I’ll just talk about the guys instead. My favorite was Mr. Bhaer, hands-down. He was wonderful. (He would be more wonderful if he didn’t have a beard, but we’ll skip this small detail.) And the proposal scene was so CUTE. The movie was cute too, but the book was more… more real. It was just so sweet! Awww, etc. And I love how he called Jo “heart’s dearest.” *sentimental sniff*
Anyways. I liked Laurie some of the time. I liked him more of the time than I did in the movie, that’s for sure. And his, er, romance (second love interest, shall we say?) wasn’t quite as annoying as in the movie either (I can’t help comparing things this way, as I saw the movie first) but it still did annoy me a great deal. The IDEA. *grunts* At least their family knew they were engaged, though, instead of just randomly coming home and saying “Guess what? I just married your little sister! Isn’t that nice?” *shudders*
Speaking of things that irritated me in the movie that didn’t as much in the book, the Amy-burns-Jo’s-book thing was much better. I cannot STAND that part in the movie. So, Amy does this dastardly thing, and instead of dealing with the girl, Mrs. March goes to Jo and starts lecturing her about how she needs to forgive her, let not the sun go down upon thy wrath, blah blah blah. Priorities, lady. Your youngest daughter needs to be punished. The girl hasn’t even apologized! And that little, weak-voiced “Sorry, Jo” as she goes out of the room doesn’t count. So, it was still a little bit annoying in the book, but not nearly as much; it was quite different. It was less rushed, and all made more sense. Amy seemed a lot sorrier in the book too, which was nice. And the ice-skating incident made more sense, too, how Jo would be blaming herself, since she knew Amy hadn’t heard the warning about the ice and didn’t tell her. Also, Meg suggesting that Amy follow them. Yep, yep. It was all much, much better.
Ha, sorry, that section was a pet peeve of mine in the movie. Moving on.
I also liked Amy when she was older much, much better than in the movie. She was actually likable. But then, everything is better in the book. (Except there are some funny quotes in the movie that aren’t in the book. “Are you shocked?” “Very.”)
In general, the book was just a lot of fun. One of those delightful, light-hearted, well-written, interesting, imaginative… no wonder it’s a classic. And yay for it being an American classic! Sadly, there seem to be few American Classics I actually like. But it’s not as if I’ve read that many. Funny… all the likable American Literature I can think of are Children’s Classics.
This spontaneous rambling about a book is actually rather fun. But I very much hope it isn’t annoying anybody.
Now, a while back I had a poll on the sidebar about whether I should have a ‘series’ for Little Women as I did for all the Jane Austen novels and Jane Eyre. At this time I am planning on doing a short series-ish thing… that is, all my next posts will probably be Little Women-themed. I’m not going to be doing one of those overview-of-every-adaptation posts, simply because I don’t want to sit through them all; but I’m planning to review the 1994 version, have a couple other posts that are more Theme-y than this sloppy one, and then maybe a game or two. What do you think?
And now questions for you. Have you read Little Women? How many times have you read it? How old were you the first time? (Don’t worry about mortifying me. You might, but I do want to know.) I hope to read another Louisa May Alcott before too long—would you recommend I start with the sequel, Little Men, or should I pick up An Old-Fashioned Girl, which title has enticed me for years? I’d love to hear your thoughts on everything in a comment. :)
P.S. I sort of forgot to mention John Brooke along with the rest, didn’t I? Heh. Oh well. Sorry, John.