I re-read Little Women this weekend. One of those chance remarks on social media added to the luxury of my flexible schedule, led to me sitting down and reading it cover to cover. Despite reading it on the Kindle app on my iPad, it took me back to all the other readings of the book. As my friend Karen said on Twitter, it’s one of those “sacred books” that holds a special place in many hearts.
Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy — how many of us have laughed and cried over their adventures since Louisa May Alcott published the first volume back in 1868? Countless numbers. I first read it in what I discovered later was an expurgated version that had all direct references to religion removed. For such an essentially moral story, the actual references to religion are few, but still jump out at me because of that novelty.
I suppose an awful lot of writing women first got their courage for the art from the lively adventures of Jo. Does “genius burn” for you, too? I always loved her wild tales for the Daily Volcano — I suppose my own racy romances and lately gruesomely dark crime stories are equally sensational thrillers. Unlike Jo, I don’t feel guilty about my lurid tales or feel they put me in any kind of moral jeopardy.
But I sighed and cried all the way through the book: the impossibly kind family especially Marmee — always understanding, always so wise — the painful lessons of poverty, the envy of those who had an easier time of it and the ambition for a better life — and yes, finding true love. I think there was an extra level of interest for me in the idea of sisters, having only brothers. Sometimes I really longed for a sister or two to confide in.
What are your Little Women memories? Who’s your favourite character? Did you sigh for Laurie — or for Professor Bhaer?