Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott

Review by Gemma E McLaughlin

This is one that may come as a shock to a few people, but prior to last week I hadn’t even begun to read Little Women. It had always been one of those books so widely and deeply loved I became in a way intimidated by it. What would I say to people if I didn’t like it? Would I be cast aside by fellow book lovers for my poor taste? Upon seeing a copy in a charity shop last week I found myself allowing all of those worries to melt away and picked it up. The sense of magic and intrigue as I opened to the first page of the book, and my introduction to the March sisters was overpowering. I knew I had to try this, and so I did.

The story is based around four young, uniquely lovable sisters who have found themselves in a difficult time in life with their father away at war and not having as much money and privileges as they once did. The girls are forced to take up work and help out around the house, and though they remember a time where they didn’t need to help quite as much and money wasn’t a worry, they find ways to be happy with each other and grow as people. The story uses young, charming characters to portray important messages of personal growth, kindness and the search for happiness that I couldn’t imagine being expressed more eloquently than by Louisa May Alcott‘s words.

I have always had a fascination with characters that I believe are truly well-written and interesting and Little Women was infinitely satisfying in that sense. Often when faced with writing young people it is easy to categorise a child as one character, and write from stereotypes and unbelievably basic characteristics of a little girl. Louisa May Alcott did not take the easy route and for that I am truly grateful. Each of the sisters was carefully planned to not only interact with and push forward the plot but also to act in a way that felt real, with distinct mannerisms, opinions and perspective on life. After only a few short chapters I felt a connection to the March sisters as though I myself was the fifth sister and that impression has stuck with me.

I’d like to note before I finish off my review that it is easy to convince yourself not to read a book that is widely loved out of the fear that you won’t understand what so many people see in it and occasionally that is the case, but not nearly enough to give up on something you could love. Remind yourself, as I did, that there may be a reason you have been told to read this book by so many people and that it’s worth a try. I would like to now be one of the many people telling you to read Little Women immediately.