I read Little Women a number of years ago when I was in Cuba. My intention had been to read Catch 22, but 300 pages in I gave up with little understanding of what had happened thus far. Far better, I figured, to admit temporary defeat (Catch 22 still remains unread) and start another novel from the BBC Big Read that I was yet to read.
And so I began Little Women, perhaps one of the only novels whose film adaptation I had seen prior to reading the book itself. Originally published in two parts in 1868 and 69, Little Women is Alcott’s best known novel and follows four sisters; Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy March as they emerge into womanhood. Loosely based on Alcott and her three sisters, I read it when a degree of familiarity, and being one of four girls myself, it certainly resonated with me in parts.
The tale follows the sisters and their mother who are living in genteel poverty, while their beloved father is away fighting in the civil war, as they settle in a new neighbourhood. Between them they encounter illness, death, marriage, birth and heartbreak but remain close as both sisters and friends throughout, despite their ups and downs. Despite everything the sisters go through; despite the sisterly squabbles and often more serious fights, their bond is unbreakable and they remain unwavering close – as sisters do.
A charming, poignant read that has touched a wealth of readers the world over, and inspired a brilliant film adaptation starring Winona Ryder et al, there’s little doubt that this tale of familial love will continue to do so for many years to come.
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