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Book of the Week #34 "Little Women"

by Louisa May Alcott

Beginning during the civil war, Little Women revolves around the March sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. Each sister has a different personality and both their strengths and faults are presented throughout the novel. Their father is a chaplain in the war and at home the girls are brought up by their loving and patient mother whom they affectionately call "Marmee" with help from their housekeeper Hannah. Throughout the 47 chapters, we see the girls meet and befriend their lonely neighbor Theodore "Laurie" Laurence, coming to think of him as "their boy," as well as his grandfather Mr. Laurence and a myriad of other characters. We also see the differences between the sisters, the maternal Meg and her wish for riches, Jo's quick temper and her dreams of writing, sweet Beth's wish to care for their family home and play music, and Amy's love of beauty and talent for art. We see the sisters at their best and we see them at their worst; they quarrel and threaten, but they also love and stick together. As with any coming of age tale, many transitions take place within these 600+ pages (depending upon which edition you read). The girls go from being young, "little women," to graceful grown women full of wisdom, grace, spice, and many more things, thanks to their careful upbringing.

I had featured Little Women as my 5th Book of the Week last year when I started this feature. I read this book for the first time when I was fifteen, but I had read an abridged version. In January, I heard about a read along that was taking place and decided I wanted to join. I had the full version on my Kindle that I was planning to read later when my TBR had been brought down some, but this seemed like a fun opportunity to finally read the full version. Little did I know how much more I would fall in love with this book. Before, I considered it a favorite, definitely in my top ten. But now, I consider it to be a close second to Anne of Green Gables, and anyone who knows me knows that that is really saying something. Before, I had a casual appreciation for this book, a shallow sort of fancy. Now, I love it deeply.

Louisa May Alcott is a master. How can one overlook the talent that this woman possessed? Sure, there may be some things in the book that would never survive the red pen of modern editors, but I love those little things and find them charming. This book holds so many of what I call "golden nuggets"; phrases that touch your soul and you just can't shake from your mind. Such wisdom, such talent. You just have to read it for yourself. Some of my favorites:

I've heard that Louisa wrote Little Women as a sort of Pilgrim's Progress for kids. I'm not positive if this is true or not, though. Morals fill the book, but it doesn't feel preachy. The lessons flow throughout the story and are an integral part of the book. And though some lessons may seem old-fashioned, this book has stood the test of time over these near 200 years.

There are so many things in this book, I really don't know where to begin. There's so much that I want to say but I don't want to give away any spoilers. Little Women offers a little bit of everything; there's romance, there's heartache; we see lives end and we see lives begin. We watch as our favorite characters make mistakes and learn from them. And we later watch as they teach these lessons to others. One cannot help but become absorbed in the book. Who wasn't in agony when a certain girl turned down a certain boy's proposal??

There's so much to say about this beloved novel, but everything I think of just seems to fall short. It doesn't seem like enough to say that I love this book, but it's true; I do love it. If there's one thing I could tell someone who has never read Little Women, never even considered cracking its hardy spine, it's that you are doing yourself a great disservice.

I believe it is plain to see that I give this book a 5 out of 5.

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