Slice of Life – a review of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Amy Rosenfeldt’s reading the classics now? Indeed I am! After find I had Nintendo’s version of a Kindle stored in my wardrobe (a DS game cartridge filled with nothing but classical literature) I’ve decided it was time I read more that the four-or-so books that I wound up finishing when I was 14.

Starting off with Little Women. Over the course of a year waiting for their father to return home from the Civil War, sisters Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy March devout the year to self improvement. Meg pledges to lose her fancifulness, Jo to keep control of her temper and sharp mouth, Beth to remove her envy and Amy to be more selfless. In the year of their quest shouldering these burdens, they are finally acquainted with their neighbour Laurie. Together, their kinship develops as they together come of age.

This is a very modern perspective, obviously, on classical literature. This will be a learning curve to discover the tropes and such within the classics.

The characters were very much a strength in this novel. Each of the March sisters and their friends felt very well rounded, and at times mature for their age and the way that they thought. They were self aware of flaws they had, which were developed along with flaws invisible to them. It was fascinating to see the different paths each sister wanted to take during that time, maybe a reflection of the possibilities of what women were capable of then. I’d imagine Alcott to be a feminist of her time, as I feel modern authors struggle to display females in such a light today. Yes, I’m willing to throw that shade.

I have no idea if this is a trope within classical literature, but a lot more story was told through dialogue than anything else. That’s a little bit on the nose when major writing advice I have heard is “show don’t tell” and dialogue is the primary way to do so in this novel. Instead of seeing certain events through the perspective of the characters in real time, those events were at times melo-dramatised in dialogue. It really made me gloss over such retellings. Lengthy dialogue is very off putting for me, and it made me gloss over what may have been very important details.

The chapters felt very episodic, and I’m very neutral about this. The great thing was that each chapter had a mini narrative with each chapter having a development and purpose – the ideal way for chapters to be written. It definitely felt like things were happening. At the same time, many of the chapters up until the final five or so chapters felt more like short stories taking place in the same world. So I couldn’t tell when a chapter felt particularly necessary. That’s not to say they weren’t bad. Each was wholesomely enjoyable. I just wish I knew how they led up to the grand scheme of things.

My main verdict for this novel would be that I can see what makes it appealing and how it stood the test of time to still be a very loved piece of fiction. But of course I have my biases being less acquainted with classical literature. A score in the middle range means I could keep it or not, and I think I will keep this story. It was very pleasant indeed.

Little Women gets a score of 3/5. A very pleasant first dive into classic literature.

Yours in writing


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