Review: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Little Women
Louisa May Alcott
Naxos Audiobooks Ltd.
Published September 21, 2022 (Original story first published 1868)

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About Little Women

Grown-up Meg, tomboyish Jo, timid Beth, and precocious Amy. The four March sisters couldn’t be more different. But with their father away at war, and their mother working to support the family, they have to rely on one another.

Whether they’re putting on a play, forming a secret society, or celebrating Christmas, there’s one thing they can’t help wondering: Will Father return home safely?

Why I Read Little Women

Last year I read two different books that retold LITTLE WOMEN in their own ways. One was set during World War II, and the other was a contemporary novel about a girl named Jo who felt trapped by her family’s obsession with the story of LITTLE WOMEN.

In BELITTLED WOMEN, the contemporary story, one character stated some things about Louisa May Alcott that I didn’t know, so before I wrote up my review, I checked online, looking for information about whether the book’s assertions were true. And it looked like they were. I also found a book called MEG, JO, BETH, AND AMY by Anne Boyd Rioux that I really wanted to read. The book gives some biographical information about Alcott’s life and why audiences have loved the story so much through the decades.

Anyway, I realized that first, if LITTLE WOMEN retellings are going to be a thing, I want to read the original. Plus, I really want to read the book about the author’s life and the public’s reception of the story over the years. So anyway. That’s how I came to listen to this 21 hour audiobook narrated by Laurel Lefkow.

Little Women on Goodreads

My Review

I grew up watching the movie version of LITTLE WOMEN starring Winona Ryder as Jo, so I went into the book familiar with the basic story. There are a lot of differences, obviously, since nobody can take a seven or eight hundred page book and turn it into a two hour movie without cutting and rearranging quite a bit. The thing that struck me immediately was how young the characters are at the beginning (which makes so much sense since it’s marketed as a book for middle grade readers. At the start of the story, Amy is 11, Beth 13, Jo 15, and Meg 17. And for a large portion of the novel, those are the ages they remain. The second part of the novel kind of skips ahead to when they’re older. By the end they’re all adults.

Overall it’s a sweet story about the relationships between sisters and then their transitions to adulthood and marriage. There are some statements in the book that didn’t age so great– Alcott talks several times about a woman’s perfect place being a wife and in caring for her home. But in a scene in which Amy chastises Laurie for being idle, she also says that she disagrees with the idea that young men must act out and sew wild oats. She suggests that if we expected them to act more mature then many of them would meet those expectations– which sounds to me a lot like some of the things I’ve heard in conversations about consent and modesty.

I’m glad I read the book, finally. Considering my love for sister stories, I don’t know why it took me so long to read the classic novel that’s literally most widely known for that exact thing. Those scenes between the sisters were some of my favorite parts of the book.

Little Women on Bookshop

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 8 to 12.

Major characters are white.

Profanity/Crude Language Content

Romance/Sexual Content
A girl sits on the knee of her fiancé and later her husband.

Spiritual Content
Jo and Marmee talk about how reading the Bible and praying can help Jo deal with feelings of anger. Some references to the girls taking time to read or pray.

Violent Content

Drug Content
The March family does not believe in drinking alcohol except for medicinal purposes. When families give them wine to serve at Meg’s wedding, the family donate them to the veteran’s hospital instead.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

2 Responses to Review: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

  1. One of my favorite books, mostly because I first read it at a very young age and so Jo was one of the first main characters that I really connected with. Love your review!

    • Kasey says:

      Thank you! I can’t believe it took me so long to read this book. I have listened to the audiobook more than once now. I love Jo, too!