REVIEW: LITTLE WOMEN, LOUISA MAY ALCOTT

Rating: 5 stars.

“I’d rather take coffee than compliments just now.”

I used to have a vintage copy of Little Women that I found, dusty and crumpled, at the back of a charity shop. I remember it well; it was blue and the pages were tanned with age. The spine was engraved with gold and the cover was made from a beautifully soft leather-like material, the kind that books these days are lacking. In my youthful ignorance I read a few chapters and decided that it wasn’t ‘exciting’ enough for me, and the old copy was lost amongst the rest of my unloved Nik Naks. Oh, what I would give to be able to find that book again!

It wasn’t until a few months ago when I fell in love with the new movie adaption of Little Women that I decided to give the book another go. The film was irresistible, with the most well-assembled cast I’ve seen in ages – Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Timothee chalemet, Laura Dern and Meryl Streep. Each played their part as though they were born to do it, as was expected. Directed by the cinematic genius that is Greta Gerwig, it was destined for greatness, and it did not dissapoint. The movie pulled at my heartstrings, making me cry both sad and happy tears, and the beautifully put together scenes of carmaraderie and the cosy aesthetic gave me a sense of nostalgia.

“I like good strong words that mean something…”

Following the lives of four sisters on a journey out of adolescence, Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women explores the difficulties associated with gender roles in a Post-Civil War America.

I’m so glad that I decided to re-read Little Women, for I would have missed out on a beautiful thing had I not given it a second chance. Just like the film, the book feels like home. The infectious spirit of the March sisters undoubtedly brightened my evenings and since finishing it I feel rather lonely. It is a beautifully written novel that reminded me of the simple joys in life and made me hold my loved ones a little closer. Alcott cleverly highlights both the beauty and the fragility of life, in a way that warms the heart and gives you a newfound appreciation for waking up each morning.

“Have regular hours for work and play; make each day both useful and pleasant, and prove that you understand the worth of time by employing it well. Then youth will bring few regrets, and life will become a beautiful success.”

Alcott herself reminds me of a wise grandmother, teaching the reader morals and life lessons in a kind-hearted, non-preachy way that makes you feel comforted and assured of the good in the world. Her worldly words reminded me of my own Nan – she was one of the strongest, kindest and wisest women I will ever have the privilidge of knowing and I miss her every day – so maybe that’s why this book brought me so much comfort; it was like getting advice from her once again, something that I did often growing up.

“I think she is growing up, and so begins to dream dreams, and have hopes and fears and fidgets, without knowing why or being able to explain them.”

Some might think the book a little long-winded but I adored following the girls from childhood into adulthood, through the good times and the bad, laughing and crying with them, feeling their anger and their joy, and I finished the book feeling as though I had gained good friends. Many of the trials and tribulations that the March sisters experience whilst growing up are relatable and the plot isn’t overly dramatised, giving the book a very real feel to it. More than a few times whilst reading this book I was transported back to my own childhood, a welcome trip down memory lane. It made me feel grateful and nostalgic, if a little wistful.

It’s hard to put into words just how lovely this Classic novel is, it’s really something that you have to experience for yourself and I highly recommend reading it if you haven’t already! (or if, like me, you didn’t give it the chance it deserves the first time around). It’s a bit of a slow burner I’ll admit, but if you can look past the lack of fast-paced drama that we are so used to these days, I think you’ll find that, just like in life, the beauty is in the simplicity of it.

“She preferred imaginary heroes to real ones, because when tired of them, the former could be shut up in the tin kitchen till called for, and the latter were less manageable.”

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