Late last month was the 149th anniversary of the publishing of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women.
Little Women for those unaware, is the story of the four March sisters growing up in Civil War era Massachusetts. Their father is away, fighting for the Union, leaving his wife, known as Marmee to her daughters, to be both mother and father.
Meg, the oldest, is level-headed and responsible. Jo (short for Josephine), is the tomboy, the son her father never had and the wannabe writer. Beth is the homebody who rarely socializes outside of her family circle. Amy, the baby of the family, is artistic, but spoiled and selfish. Living in genteel poverty, the girls, the mother and their longtime housekeeper, Hannah do the best they can under their circumstances.
What I love about this book is that it is so universal. While the sisters are archetypes, Alcott brilliantly fleshed them out so they are fully formed characters. She also allows her characters to grow in a very organic way, instead of forcing adulthood upon them. There is also, as there is often is with books by female writers before the modern era, an undercurrent of feminism.
It’s been 23 years since the last film adaptation of Little Women was released.
Next year, PBS will be airing their own adaptation of Little Women.
When I think of Little Women, I think of how much I understand these girls and their journey. I also think how much this book mean to me when I was growing up and how it led me to become the bookworm I am today.
Louisa May Alcott, thank you for this amazing, wonderful book that continues to last. May the book and your legacy live forever.