In this part of the book, we meet the family for the first time. As I mentioned in my introductory post, I read an abridged version of the book many times as a child so I thought the girls were familiar to me. I remembered headstrong, passionate Jo and peaceful Beth right, but in my head Meg was more mature than she appears at the start of the book, always going on about dresses and looks. Maybe it's the film-Meg I'm remembering rather than the book-Meg?
As for the plot, Little Women as a whole is divided into episodes that teach life lessons. In chapters 1-8, the girls learn that poverty is relative, Beth overcomes her shyness to make a new friend, Jo's temper and refusal to forgive leads to Amy burning her manuscript and Amy learns that there are consequences to breaking the rules at school. Much of these chapters were taken up with Jo becoming friends with Laurie and his introduction to the family as a whole. I love Laurie as a character; he's quite loud and boisterous but capable of great sensitivity towards Beth too. There is one section where Alcott writes that Laurie is always nice, but then he only ever shows his pleasant side to the Marches (or words to that effect!), that promise some interesting chapters later on.
One of the questions Risa posted was 'have you a favourite sister yet?' and I most definitely do. Although I would like to think of myself as calm and peaceful like Beth or creative and passionate like Jo, I'm more of an Amy. Before you all start writing me off as a spoiled brat, what I mean by that is I was the youngest sister too. Much of Amy's 'bad' behaviour comes from her desire to catch up, to do what Jo and Meg are doing. The scene where she throws a tantrum about not being allowed to go to the theatre reminded me of all the times my big sister got to do something first and I remember how jealous I was! You never feel like you will catch up when you're Amy's age, although age becomes irrelevant later. I think Amy gets a bad rep sometimes, burning Jo's manuscript was appalling but Amy is always ready to own up to her mistakes and ask for forgiveness and she can be very generous. Beth is almost too perfect to relate to so I appreciate that Alcott created a human, flawed character in Amy. I will be cheering for Amy all through this read-along!
I'm looking forward to reading the next third of the book next week. We are reading the original Little Women only (half of the American version), so I'm going to go straight on and read Good Wives/ the second half afterwards. Reading the book brings on a cosy feeling which is just lovely after a long day at work.
Risa's discussion post
I'm definitely like Jo - tomboyish and headstrong!ReplyDelete
I'm afraid I'm neither, although I would like to be sometimes! :PDelete
I've been looking forward to your posts about LW :-) I think you're exactly right about Amy. She doesn't want to be left out! I don't have a sister (two brothers), but my best friend when I was a teenager had three younger sisters and I loved going to her house and adored her sisters. I look forward to your next post! I've never read Good Wives.ReplyDelete
A part of me always wanted a brother, or at least a younger sibling of some kind. I've read Good Wives only once, I remember being disappointed with how things turned out.Delete
Hmmm....I'm glad of this perspective about Amy. I've always found it so incredibly hard to sympathise or empathise with her. But reading her from your point of view might actually help me in understanding her....finally!ReplyDelete
I suspect Amy is a bit of an acquired taste as she isn't as obviously good as Beth or as interesting as Jo. Meg I find quite boring compared to the other three.Delete
Bleurgh, Amy! Haha, but really no, I know what you're saying, and yeah, she probably is easier to relate to than Beth, but... I really love Beth! So so hard.ReplyDelete
I love Beth too but I imagine it would be hard to actually be around her as you would always feel lacking. But she is a lovely character.Delete
I have a little sister, and I knew she felt left out sometimes, so I tried to enclude her whenever it was possible. When I read Little Women, I think I'll find myself sympathizing with Amy, too.ReplyDelete
I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who symapthises with Amy :)Delete
I read this when I was young but remembered almost nothing about it. I read it again with my daughter several years ago. But now you've got me thinking I should read it again. I'm not sure I could pick a favorite sister.ReplyDelete
I think it easily stands up to multiple readings. I feel differently about the story and characters now I am a bit older than last time I read it. Did your daughter enjoy it?Delete
I just finished (last month) both Little Women and Good Wives. I think Amy really blossoms in Good Wives and I enjoyed her character much more than I have before. I love all of the sisters, though, and getting to know them was such a pleasure.ReplyDelete
I think Amy suffers in readers' minds as she ends up with Laurie. I've only read Good Wives once but I remember feeling a bit like Laurie only married Amy because he wanted to marry one of the March girls.Delete
I've been really sick all this last week, and I've been working my way through all the Swallows and Amazons books. But, I'm just about ready for a change of pace, so I might belatedly join in with you guys - it's a while since I read my Alcotts.ReplyDelete
I have to say, at this point, Jo has always been my favourite, and the one with whom I've always identified most strongly. The short temper, the writing, the frustration of being restricted by being a girl (my mother had some quite definite ideas about how girls should be) and the impulsive behaviour always getting her into scrapes!
I have one brother, always wanted sisters, so I read and re-read these books so many times...imagining myself into the story each time - I don't do that any more though!!
I so love this book...and I am a Jo through and through. I have the best heart and intentions but my mouth gets in the way many many times ;) I appreciate the simpleness of their lives so much. I might even try to re-read this one over the holiday break :)ReplyDelete
This is definitely one of my favorite books - an automatic 'feel good' novel, just because it gives me good memories of childhood.ReplyDelete
I have to confess - I was never able to forgive Amy for burning those stories; I think I actually took it as a personal attack, even more than Jo did :P But I didn't like the fact that she had to almost drown before Jo would even speak to her.
Little Women was one of my favourites as a child. I guess I was more like Joe, strong and passionate and I remember throwing tantrums and never letting go of issues but not a tomboy. I could never accept my faults although I was and am very generous. I intend to replace one of the books on my Classics List with Little Women. :-)ReplyDelete