Tag Archives: Little Women

Why are the Oscars Still So White and Male?

This time of year, the buildup to the Oscar nominations is palpable.

The Oscar nominations were announced earlier this week.

Not surprisingly, most of the nominees are white and male. Among the major acting nominations, Cynthia Erivo (Harriet) is the only performer of color who was nominated. In the directing category, Bong Joon-ho (Parasite) is the only non Caucasian to receive the nomination.

Not that those who were nominated don’t deserve their nominations, but there is something to be said for representation. Two of my favorite movies from 2019 are Little Women and The Farewell. Both were directed by women and both were brilliant films. Little Women has 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The Farewell has a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. And yet, in the major categories, did not receive their due.

I don’t know what is in the water in Hollywood. But it feels like like a slap in the face. It’s as if the powers that be are either afraid of diversity or don’t want it. They are content with the status quo which holds up their place in the world.

It’s 2020. It’s time for women and people of color to be seen and given the opportunity to succeed in Hollywood. But that will only happen when the Academy finally admits that they have a problem with diversity.

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Little Women Movie Review

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.

I absolutely recommend it.

Little Women is presently in theaters.

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March Sisters: On Life, Death, and Little Women Book Review

Little Women turned 150 last year. Louisa May Alcott‘s classic novel about the March sisters has thrilled, comforted and inspired multiple generations of readers.

In the new book, March Sisters: On Life, Death, and Little Women, four modern women write about the importance of Little Women and why this book still has an impact on readers a century and a half after it’s initial publication.

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.

I recommend it.

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Mrs. Everything Book Review

Whether we like it or not,when we grow up with siblings, we are assigned roles within the family. However, that does not mean that we stay within those roles as adults.

Jennifer Weiner’s new novel, Mrs. Everything, starts in the 1950’s. Jo and Bethie Kaufman are living an idyllic middle class life in Detroit. Jo is the rebel and the tomboy. Bethie is the little lady and conformist. But their adult roles will not match their childhood roles.

Over the next couple of decades, personal experience and the outside changing world will switch their roles. Jo becomes the suburban wife and mother. Bethie is the rebel who never quite settles down. Though both women seem to be settled as adults, they both question if they have made the right choices in life.

This book is amazing. The details of the time periods that she writes in are superb. I love that the sisters are fully formed, they are so different, but somehow incredibly similar. I also loved that the human quality of the relationships between the female characters. The relationships between the girls and their mother, between Jo and Bethie (a lovely nod to Little Women), between Jo and her daughters was absolutely perfect.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Thoughts on the New Little Women Trailer

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.

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Little Women Play Review

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.

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Best Books Of 2018

I’ve read quite a few books in 2018. Below is the list of the best books of 2018, at least from my perspective.

  1. Becoming by Michelle Obama: Mrs Obama’s autobiography is insightful, down to earth and one of the best autobiographies that I have read in a long time.
  2. House of Gold by Natasha Solomons: House of Gold was described by another reviewer as a Jewish version of Downton Abbey. I couldn’t think of another description if I made it up myself.
  3. Pride by Ibi Zoboi: A modern-day Pride and Prejudice set in New York City, this Jane Austen adaptation feels old and new at the same time.
  4. We Are Going to Be Lucky A World War II Love Story in Letters by Elizabeth L. Fox: The story of a marriage during World War II told in a series of letter that will make you believe in love.
  5. My Girls: A Lifetime with Carrie and Debbie by Todd Fisher: When Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds departed this world two years ago, no one knew them better than their brother and son. The book is a love letter to them by one of the people who knew and loved them best.
  6. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah: A young girl growing up in the wilds of Alaska learns some hard truths about life, love and marriage.
  7. American Tantrum: The Donald J. Trump Presidential Archives by Anthony Atamanuik and Neil Casey: Based on the character created by Anthony Atamanuik on The President Show, it is a what if story in regards to the fictional Presidential library of you know who.
  8. Not Out Kind: A Novel by Kitty Zeldis: Just after the end of World War II, two women from vastly different worlds meet in New York City and forever change each other’s lives in the process.
  9. Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters by Anne Boyd Rioux: 150 years after the publication of Little Women, the book still resonates with readers across the globe and across the cultural landscape.
  10. The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict: Behind every genius is a supportive and loving spouse. But what happens when the spouse is denied her own genius because she is a woman?

That’s my list, what are your favorite books of 2018?

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Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters Book Review

For many a young and old literary nerd, Little Women is treasured classic.

2018 is the 150th anniversary of the release of Louisa May Alcott‘s classic novel of four young women coming of age in the mid 19th century.

The new book, Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters, by Anne Boyd Rioux, tells the story of how Little Women impacted both American and worldwide culture over the past 150 years.

Little Women was a smash when it hit bookshelves on September 30th, 1868. Since then, the book has become ingrained into the public consciousness. In her book, Ms. Rioux explains how each era viewed Little Women. She also writes about how modern feminism and modern female writers have used pieces of Little Women when creating their own works. Specifically, Ms. Rioux explains how Little Woman lives today in new characters and narratives. Belle from Beauty and The Beast, Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series and Rory Gilmore from Gilmore Girls all have something in them from Little Women.

I will warn that this book is not for the virgin Little Women fan. It requires the knowledge that only comes via multiple reading and multiple viewings of the various adaptions. I really enjoyed this book. It could have turned out to be just another dry academic book detailing the history of Little Women and Louisa May Alcott. Instead it is  lively, entertaining and reminds its readers why Little Women continues to be relevant 150 years after it was initially released in bookstores.

I recommend it.

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Little Women Character Review: Aunt March

*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.

If we are lucky, we have older relations who love us and want the best for us.  But that doesn’t mean that they are always right. In Little Women, that older relation is Aunt March. Aunt March is the wealthy and widowed Aunt by marriage of Mr. March. She is also very opinionated and not afraid to share her opinions.  The reader is introduced to Aunt March when we follow Jo to her job as her aunt’s companion. They get along like oil and water.

It is Aunt March who continually harps on what she believes to be her nephew’s poor decision-making abilities. She also nearly breaks up the engagement of Meg to John Brooke. John is just poor tutor without connections or a large fortune and according to Aunt March, an unwise choice of a spouse.

Though she is critical and not afraid to speak her mind, Aunt March is not heartless. She takes a shining to Amy and encourages her to develop her artistic abilities. She also leaves her home, Plumfield to Jo after her death.

To sum it up: Aunt March maybe a cantankerous and stubborn old woman, but that does not mean that she puts money above family.  I think when writers create characters like Aunt March, there has to be a balance between the smart-mouthed old biddy who thinks she knows everything and the woman who really does care, but it doesn’t come out in a direct fashion. It’s just a matter of knowing when to reveal which part of the character’s personality.

 

This will be the last character review post for Little Women. The next group of characters who will receive a character review in two weeks is…….I’m not telling you. You have to wait and see. 

 

 

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Little Women Character Review: John Brooke

*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.

Romance is wonderful. It is a magic, it is light, it is hearts and flowers, etc. But behind that romance is commitment and more often than not the commitment is harder than the romance. The commitment requires patience, compromise and the willingness to work on the relationship with your spouse or partner.

In Little Women, Meg March, the eldest of the March daughters is the first to marry. In her time, a young lady in her position was often advised to marry up. A rich man to call husband was the goal. But Meg, despite her quiet and compliant nature, follows her heart. She marries John Brooke, who is introduced to Meg and the audience early in the novel. At this point, he is earning his bread as a tutor. His pupil is Teddy Laurence, the boy who lives next door to the March family.

At first glance, John does not appear to offer much to Meg, especially looking through the lens of the 1860’s. He does not have the money or the connections of other men. He is humble and quiet. Both he and Meg know that when they marry, they will have comfortable, but modest life together.

To sum it up: Sometimes, when a writer is creating a romantic narrative, they may go a little over the top. For a certain type of story, going over the top is fine. But for others, going over the top is unnecessary. The best romances are the ones that reflect reality and the difficulty that often comes with being in love with another person and trying to make a relationship with that person last. The relationship/marriage between John and Meg continues to inspire readers and writers because it is grounded in reality. That reality, regardless of how far out the narrative is, is one of the keys to pulling in an audience/reader and keeping them in that place until the story is done.

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