Breadcrumb Reads. This week, we finished what was traditionally the stand-alone novel, Little Women, but which is now only typically half of the novel as the sequel, Good Wives, is often included in the same edition. My edition does contain both and I plan to carry straight on and read the rest of the book (in fact, I've already started!). There will be spoilers in this discussion.
One thing that struck me on finishing the 'first' novel was how happy it is in comparison with what I know is to come in the second volume. Although Beth does become sick with scarlet fever and there are some tough times for each of the sisters, things all work out in the end. Mr March comes home from war, Meg becomes happily engaged and everyone else has been improved in some way. The hardships work to stop the book from becoming overly sweet whilst still allowing it to have a feel-good atmosphere.
My life is a bit stressful at the moment and reading Little Women has been an effective relaxation tool every evening. I've been taking the book at a slow pace and really savouring each chapter. There's something about the way Alcott writes the sisters that makes them so real and consequently it's reassuring to read about them and their struggles to be better people. Each of the girls make mistakes in this latter part of the book (and Laurie is no angel too) and it's therapeutic to see them dust themselves off and carry on.
As I said in my first post, I'm an Amy fan, so I was pleased to see her start to mature and learn to think of others as well as herself by the end of the book. I still think Amy gets a lot of flack for readers when really, she tries very hard to improve and is even a bit tough on herself;
"I've thought a great deal about 'my bundle of naughties' and being selfish is the largest one in it; so I'm going to try hard to cure it, if I can. Beth isn't selfish, and that's the reason every one loves her, and feels so bad at the thought of losing her. People wouldn't feel half as bad about me if I was sick, and I don't deserve to have them."
I still find it hard to warm to Meg. Her relationship with Mr Brooke isn't developed very well by Alcott so the whole thing feels a bit forced and arranged. There's no hint she has any feelings for him until his feelings become obvious. In contrast, the clues that Laurie has feelings for Jo are planted very early on and developed throughout the whole of this book although nothing has happened yet. Although I know what happens later on, I always find it pleasing that Laurie goes for Jo on the basis of who she is and the way they interact rather than choosing someone based purely on looks. I'm looking forward to reading the next volume although I know it's more full of hardships than the first.
Thanks for hosting the readalong Risa, I've really enjoyed it!