Review: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
After watching the recent film adaptation, I was ready to have another go at finding a classic that I love. Little Women is one of the most famous and beloved out there, and I have seen many readers who usually don't warm to classics like myself, adore this particular novel.
Set during the New England civil war, Little Women follows the March sisters: aspiring tomboy writer Jo, beautiful and homely Meg, shy and musical Beth, and spoilt artist Amy. We follow these young girls as they become women and see the trials and tribulations they face when it comes to war, peace, poverty, relationships and their responsibilities within their family home.
I went to see the 2019 film adaptation with my mother soon after it's release. Knowing it came from this popular classic, I didn't expect much (considering my tumultuous feelings towards Austen). However, I was pleasantly surprised; the characters were charming and funny and the storyline was heartwarmingly simple. Each of the women were very special in their own ways and of course I was completely convinced by their love for one another as well as the ongoing love interest storyline with Laurie. I was hoping the charm was from the book, and not from the actors performances and direction. Unfortunately, the book did not reach the same peaks for me as the recent film. I didn't find the humour was translated in the same way, as the language didn't gel right with me. Often at times, I had to imagine a corresponding scene from the film to make my experience with the book a more fluid and entertaining one. If I had never seen the movie adaptation, I think I would have enjoyed the novel slightly less, so I don't regret consuming the media in the 'wrong' order!
Classically, Jo is one of the most beloved characters in fiction, but her wit was never up to par in the way I had hoped. I found the relationships between the characters convincing, however scenes were never described so I constantly ended up using memories from the film to fill in any blanks or paint a picture of the environment. In my opinion, Laurie was the best written character; completely hopeless in every regard but very sweet and caring towards all of the March sisters. I was disappointed to not fall in love with the women more, as this was truly what I was hoping to get out of my reading experience. The writing style reminds me in many ways of Jane Austen. There are many exclamations throughout, pushing all of the characters to come across as every more caricatured and dramatic. I don't find this to be an issue, although the use of language did not accurately portray wit that feels promised when adopting this writing style. Ultimately, the writing felt too sweet, and not like any of these women were real people! I am glad to have read Little Women, however I don't think it will be a book I always treasure and come back to. I enjoyed my time reading it, but at no point did I feel sad or humoured in the emotive ways that I was able to extract from the film adaptation. I will certainly be rewatching, but it is unlikely I will be rereading.
Rating: 3 stars
Publication Date: 30 September 1868 (my edition: 9 December 2009)
Publisher: Penguin Classics
# of Pages: 504