Monday, June 11, 2007

Little Women

Little Women

Louisa May Alcott

Date: 1869   —   $3.95   —   Book

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Fiction, Children's

This long-beloved book it set around the time of the Civil War, contemporaneous with its writing, and deals with the growing pains of four sisters. The eldest, Meg, longs for luxury, and sometimes finds it hard to live in the straitened circumstances the family lives in, as she is the one old enough to remember when they had money. Josephine— universally Jo— struggles with her temper and tomboyish ways. The sweet Beth finds it hard to overcome her shyness, and the doll-like Amy has an inflated ego (though the term was decades away from being invented, that's what she has.)

The girls, whose father is serving as a chaplain in the Union Army, have to deal with their own spiritual struggle and their endeavor to become better people. That alone sets this book apart from more modern fare; the girls' Christianity and reference to upstanding moral principles is taken as a given, a laudable goal, whereas a modern novel would tend to either denigrate such a choice or defend it. Easy acceptance makes it part of the smooth flow of the novel, and one might hand this book over to little girls without fearing that the book would be too preachy. (Little girls, like most small children, can sense an overly preachy tone and it bothers them.)

As to the events of the novel, there are anough funny events to make it comedic, and enough sad events to make it true, much like real life. Though modern parents might have to explain why disease was so fearful. (Did you know scarlet fever is still around? I had no idea.)

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