Book Review: Little Women By Louisa May Alcott


Generations of readers young and old, male and female, have fallen in love with the March sisters of Louisa May Alcott’s most popular and enduring novel, Little Women. Here are talented tomboy and author-to-be Jo, tragically frail Beth, beautiful Meg, and romantic, spoiled Amy, united in their devotion to each other and their struggles to survive in New England during the Civil War.

It is no secret that Alcott based Little Women on her own early life. While her father, the freethinking reformer and abolitionist Bronson Alcott, hobnobbed with such eminent male authors as Emerson, Thoreau, and Hawthorne, Louisa supported herself and her sisters with “woman’s work,” including sewing, doing laundry, and acting as a domestic servant. But she soon discovered she could make more money writing. Little Women brought her lasting fame and fortune, and far from being the “girl’s book” her publisher requested, it explores such timeless themes as love and death, war and peace, the conflict between personal ambition and family responsibilities, and the clash of cultures between Europe and America.


This classic that so many have loved over the years, many having read it as young girls, is somehow one that I never read until now. Well, via audiobook.

It’s a lovely story, and I wonder how I would have felt about it, had I read it when I was younger. Like so many readers, Jo, the lover of books, the writer, is my favourite, a woman before her time, exhibiting independence and a desire for more in her life.

It’s a coming of age story in so many ways as we see Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy develop over the years, each realizing their flaws and wanting to be better as they become women. They are guided by their mother, Marmee, who raises them alone for a a while during hard times while her husband is off doing his part in the Civil War.

If I read this years ago, I’m not sure I would have been as perceptive to the other things this story depicts – the societal norms of the time and the time itself, during and after the Civil War.

Overall, even though it felt a bit old fashioned given when it was written and the time frame it covers, there are universal and timeless messages about the bonds of family, morality and love. It was an uplifting story that I’m glad I finally got to. I think as a society and as a new generation we sometimes forget the importance of spending time offline (social media consumption of everyone needing to know every single thing) instead of spending the time peacefully enjoying it with your family.

4/5 Stars


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