For 150 years, readers have read and adored Little Women. Louisa May Alcott‘s timeless tale about the March sisters is a universal story of growing up, sisterhood and finding out who you are.
The new adaption, written and directed by Greta Gerwig, was released a couple of weeks ago.
Told in a non-linear narrative, the film starts as the girls are setting out on their own paths in life. Meg March (Emma Watson) is juggling marriage and motherhood. Jo March (Saoirse Ronan) has a day job as a private tutor and sells her stories to local newspapers. Beth March (Eliza Scanlen) remains content to be at home. Amy March (Florence Pugh) is in Paris and living with Aunt March (Meryl Streep) while she is pursuing her dream of becoming a painter.
The movie then flashes back and forth, from the present to the past. Growing up in New England during the Civil War, the girls are being raised by their mother, known as Marmee (Laura Dern) while their father fights for the North. Early in the story, Theodore “Laurie” Laurence (Timothee Chalamet) introduces himself to Jo. He is literally the boy next door and becomes Jo’s best friend.
Though some fans might disagree with Gerwig’s choice of narrative, I think it was a wise choice. Given the number of filmed adaptations of this beloved book, she chose to make her adaptation stand out because of that unorthodox narrative.
One of the things that impressed me about the film is how Amy is no longer a brat. In most adaptations and in the eyes of many fans, Amy March is disliked because she is spoiled and remains so throughout the book. But in this adaptation, Amy is spoiled like many youngest children are spoiled. But she also grows up into a woman who knows she wants, in spite of a world that would hold her back.
Anyone who has ever watched a film adaptation of their favorite book are likely to be disappointed. Changes to either character or narrative are certain. But Gerwig remains true to the text, retelling this beloved tale with a modern spirit and a reminder of why 150 years later, Little Women is a cherished novel.
Kate Bolick compares her own infatuation with status and physical beauty to Meg’s feelings while attending the Moffatt ball. Jenny Zhang remembers disliking Jo for her lack of femininity as a girl, afraid of being identified as un-ladylike. Carmen Maria Machado shines a light on Lizzie Alcott, the youngest Alcott daughter (and inspiration for Beth) and how important it is for a young girl to control her own story. Finally, Jane Smiley turns the image of Amy March on it’s head. Instead of presenting Amy as spoiled and materialistic, Smiley presents Amy as a feminist who has as much to contribute to the movement as her older sister.
As a Little Women fan, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Each writers puts on her own spin on the character she is writing about. In the process of comparing their lives and experiences to that of the characters, the reader is reminded why this book continues to be loved and cherished.
Little Women is one of those books. It is the literary gateway drug that for many young bookworms (myself included). I remember reading an abridged version of the novel when I was around eleven or twelve. I loved it then and almost thirty years later, that love has blossomed into a life long affection.
The trailer for the reboot written and directed by Greta Gerwig was just released earlier today. Stepping into the iconic, universal and beloved roles of the March sisters are Emma Watson (Meg), Saoirse Ronan (Jo), Eliza Scanlan (Beth) and Florence Pugh (Amy). Supporting and sometimes bumping heads with the March girls are Marmee (Laura Dern), Laurie (Timothée Chalamet ) and Meryl Streep (Aunt March).
As a friend stated on Facebook, about this trailer and the film’s potential success, ” If anyone can top Winona’s Jo, is DEFINITELY Saoirse”. I have an incredible amount of love for the 1994 adaptation, but if this version can top that love, I will love this film forever.
Little Women is one of the true classics of American literature. Louisa May Alcott‘s 1868 novel has been the favorite of many readers (myself included) since it’s debut 150 years ago.
A few weeks ago, Little Women, written by playwright/actress Kate Hamill premiered at the Cherry Lane Theater in New York City.
Stepping into the roles of the iconic March sisters are Hamill (Meg), Kristolyn Lloyd (Jo), Paola Sanchez Abreu (Beth) and Carmen Zilles (Amy). The narrative of the play follows the narrative of the book: The March sisters are growing up and coming of age in Civil War era Massachusetts. Meg is responsible, but also yearns to be fit in. Jo is the rebellious tomboy who dreams of becoming a writer. Beth is shy, preferring the company of her family to the company of strangers. Amy is spoiled and impulsive.
This play is brilliant. As a fan and a playwright, Hamill understands how to adapt a beloved classic for this generation. She has also hit on certain underlying subjects within the narrative that have been overlooked in the past.
One of my favorite aspects of the play is the non-traditional casting. In choosing actors that are not all Caucasian, this adaptation speaks to all of us, regardless of skin color.
Though I will warn the some purists may have some issues with the choices that Hamill made as a playwright.
I recommend it.
Little Women is playing at the Cherry Lane Theater in New York City until June 29th. Check the website for showtimes and ticket prices.
Published in 1868 and written by Louisa May Alcott, Little Women is the story of the four March sisters (Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy), growing up and coming of age in Civil War era New England. Meg is the proper eldest child, Jo is the tomboy, Beth is the homebody and Amy is the diva.
As the sisters grow and mature, each faces her own challenges on the way to adulthood.
Little Women still resonates because none of the sisters completely fits the stereotype that she is based on. Many readers (myself included) will also see themselves in more than one sister and may change who they relate to as they themselves grow and mature.
The book, at its heart, is about the relationships between the sisters. They have their fair share of disarrangement’s, but at the end of the day, the girls know that if there is no one else to turn to, her sisters will be there.
Alcott also wisely decided to make the marriage plot secondary. While, Meg, Jo and Amy do eventually marry (I won’t give away what happens to Beth if you haven’t read the novel), the narrative is not solely about the girls finding husbands.
Stepping into the shoes of the immortal March sisters is Willa Fitzgerald (Meg), Maya Hawke (Jo), Annes Elwy (Beth) and Kathryn Newton (Amy). Emily Watson plays Marmee and Jonah Hauer-King plays Laurie, Jo’s bestie/the boy next door.
I have mixed feelings about the first episode. Written by Heidi Thomas (best known as creator and show runner of Call The Midwife) was tasked with quite a challenge: condense the narrative as it is in the novel into a miniseries. While she hit all of the right narrative notes (including not making the story too sweet and allowing all four of the March sisters to share the spotlight), I just felt like something was missing. While I completely understand this is a miniseries and not a feature-length film (but then again, not all film adaptations of beloved books adhere 100% to the narrative in the source material), I just feel like something is missing.
Do I recommend it? Possibly yes.
Episodes two and three consecutively on May 20th at 8pm EST on PBS.
*Warning: This post contains spoilers in regards to the narrative and characters from the book Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Read at your own risk if you have not read the book or have seen any of the adaptations.
There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.
In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Little Women to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.
There is an old Jewish saying: may you live until 120.While the ideal is that we should all live into our golden years, the sad reality is that death can sadly strike the young as well as the old.
In Little Women, Beth March is the third of the four March girls. Unlike her sisters, she is a homebody who rarely socializes outside of her immediate circle. She always has a giving heart and a shoulder to lean on when needed. Beth is also an accomplished musician who likes nothing more than to play on the family piano.
The ying to Jo’s yang, she is the calm in the eye of the storm when Jo is temperamental and blowing up like a volcano. Unfortunately, Beth dies young after contracting an illness when she visited a family whose circumstances are much worse than the March’s.
To sum it up: Every story has a heart. It may make you laugh or it may make you cry, but it is always there. Beth is the heart of Little Women. She is the representation of all that is good in the world. Ultimately, that heart breaks when Beth dies, but it is always there, even if is there only in spirit.
Words, words, words... well said Hamlet! A little blog to go off on tangents within the worlds of history and literature that interest me. From the Tudors to Tom Hardy's Tess, or from the Wars of the Roses to Wuthering Heights, feel free to browse through my musings to pick up extra ideas and points for discussion!