Sunday, August 12, 2012

Little Women: The Book

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.

9 comments:

Lily of the Valley said...

Hello Melody! I see I have the honor of being one of the first people to comment on your post. ; )Anyways, I would suggest that you read Little Men next. It was a very fun book, quite a lot like Little Women, following the stories of the different children at Plumfield. But you really must read An Old-Fashioned Girl soon, too, since we consider ourselves old-fashioned girls! Haha.
Moving on, I have read Little Women twice. The first time was probably when I was around eleven, the second time around thirteen or fourteen. I plan to read it again soon.(Perhaps it shall go on my book list of 103 titles!) I find it an inspiring story, and one that may teach the reader some good life lessons as well.

Lauren said...

I love Little Women, defiantly one of my favourites, and I do like the movie.

I've read LW 3 1/2 times. I started reading LW at 10, but I didn't really enjoy it so I only read half. I can actually remember reading it in the waiting room at the hospital while I had a broken arm. Since then I have got wiser (I presume) and I love it.

I think you should read Little Men first, but I am bias, because I have never read An Old Fashioned Girl, but it is really your decision. ( :

I will look forward to your character reviews, or-whatever-you-want-to-call-it post. I think the characters is defiantly the best aspect of the book.

~Lauren

A Daughter of the King said...

I loved this post :) It made me laugh...I, personally, have read Little Women approximately 5 or 6 times. The first time being...oh, I don't know. Maybe I was 9 or 10?

I confess I'm a Laurie fan...I suppose I understand why he and Jo just couldn't get married, but I was positively furious with Ms Alcott for quite some time. ;)

As far as your question which book to read next... I've read many of Louisa May Alcott's books and loved to bits every single one :) It's really up to you. Little Men follows Little Women very well, but And Old-Fashioned Girl is charming in it's own way...and I also highly recommend Rose in Bloom. {and Eight Cousins. and Jo's Boys. I digress.}

Miss Dashwood said...

Answering your questions first, then commenting For Reals:

I have indeed read LW. TYMD. I think I've read it... six times. Possibly seven. Heh. I was eight the first time. And I'd recommend AOFG next and then LM. Definitely read both, though. OOOH, and then you can read Jo's Boys and we can giggle over that together! It's vewy funny. Funnier than Little Men, *I* think.

Now to comment. I did so enjoy this post, m'dear! I love it when you ramble. Regular reviews are all well and good, but this one was just like reading an email you'd written (minus all the acronyms and phonetically-spelled British pronunciation, my deauh). Which was great fun.

You know, I always thought that Mrs. March should have been a little harsher with Jo in the movie, heehee... if *I* had attacked one of my sisters like that, *my* Mamma would not have let it slide in such a calm and tootly way. Heh. But I agree, Amy should have been punished. It's definitely better in the book. Book Is Always Better Club Forevah!

*snickers evilly and winks*

Hahaha, you and Mr. Bhaer's beard... hey, did I tell you that he and Jo have a son named Teddy? Therefore his name is Teddy Bhaer. BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. That always amuses me.

REALLY looking forward to your movie review!

Melody said...

I really should post more often, because then I get these lovely comments! :)

Lily,
Indeed, you have the "honor" of being the very first! Heehee. ;)
Oh, dear! This is so hard! Too bad I can't read them all at once, heehee. :) Thanks for your input! Which was the book you were talking about quoting with your cousin--something to do with a hat? Was it Rose in Bloom?
Ah yes, your list of 103 titles. It isn't really very hard to get that many when you set your mind to it. Reading them all is another thing. ;D You'll have to let me know when and if you ever finish it.

Lauren,
You know, I remember starting Anne of Green Gables while waiting in a hospital (except I didn't have a broken arm--we were visiting a family member), but that was when I was only about eight, I think, and I didn't get past the first couple chapters. I also remember some old lady there asked me what I was reading, so I told her, and then she seemed to think I wasn't quite old enough for it yet... she said it in a nice way, but I was still rather annoyed. HA.
Ahem. That was random.
Thank you for your suggestion, and I'm glad your looking forward to the other posts! :)

Daughter of the King,
I enjoyed your comment, and was very pleased to know that my post made you laugh. I dearly love to make people laugh. ;-)
Heehee, Jo and Laurie not marrying didn't annoy me half as much as who the latter DID end up marrying. Ugh. It is always a little sad that Jo and Laurie didn't end up together, though... they had such a splendid beginning! I must say I am a fan of stories where a boy and girl are good friends when they're younger and then grow up and get married. :D
Rose in Bloom, Eight Cousins and Jo's Boys are all on my list as well so I should be reading them at some point or other. ;)

Mildred,
Wow, eight. I knew it would be something terribly young. ;)
Giggling over a book with you is a good incentive to read it. Indubitably.
Hah. Indeed, I succeeded with difficulty to leave out the acronyms and British-accent-spellings. I wonder if I could ever do that when I actually AM emailing you... I should try it sometime. But then, it might be too dull, so perhaps not.
Well then, shall you think me terribly Evil and Wicked if I confess to having rather cheered Jo on when she attacked Amy? Heh. But I was mad at her too. She didn't actually harm her... and Amy kinda deserved it. *hides* But that was such a dreadful, devious thing of Amy to do, and I consider it the worse of two evils. Jo's reaction was rather natural. Not to say Jo was right to have done that, but I still believe the priority was to be dealing with The Evil Youngest Sister and not the one who had just been Wounded and besides, she always ends up being very hard on herself anyways. :P Just because Jo didn't react the right way doesn't make what Amy did any better.
Let's just say Mrs. March Of The Movie didn't get anything right on that occasion. Ha.
YES, you told that to me on the phone several months ago. Before I evuh read the book. And I was excessively diverted and remembered it later on when I was reading LW and started giggling. :D
I'm glad you're looking forward to my movie review... not exactly sure what I'm going to do with it. Hopefully I'll get some inspiration? Heh?

Melody said...

Argh, I wish these comments had an 'edit' button if nobody else as commented yet. >.<
You're. I meant you're. In case anybody notices that I made that typo. (I won't mention any names like Millie...*cough*)

Lily of the Valley said...

Haha, the hat being worn at an angle "that defied gravity" quote is from An Old -Fashioned Girl. My cousin and I are fond of that quote, especially as we both have a weakness for pretty hats. ; )

Jessica said...

I have read Little Women many times. I think the first time I in around 12. Can't remember exactly. I love that story, the book and the 1994 movie. :-)
I would suggest reading An Old Fahioned Girl rather than Little Men. I can't remember Little Men very well, but I think the first few chapters were boring to me, and you might stop reading it if you start with that one. Ha

Miss Marianne said...

I know I am new around here (I think most of your are followers) and that I'm very late on commenting on this, but I absolutely LOVE this book and I just had to comment!!!! Anyway, I just wanted to say a small something about the next book you should read. I personally think that it should be Little Men. Yes, it may be hard to get involved, but it picks back up from little Women and you get to know everyone's family life. Next would be jo's Boys, which is a sequel to Little Men. And Old-Fashioned girl is so sweet and I loved it! (..I really need to read it again..) It is like little women as in there's a 'part one' and 'part two' The first part she's a little girl and the 2nd she's a young lady. :D My heart felt sympathy on you not reading Little Women until now.
P.s. I like Laurie in the newest little women and love him in the books. But I will pardon you on knowing that we are all entitled to our own opinions. :D I'm teasing you, but really I like Teddy.

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