Book Review

Little Women: By Louisa May Alcott

By Denebola
Published: December 2007

By Corinne Popp

Though more a novel than a holiday book, Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women remains one of my seasonal favorites.The novel’s very first line, “Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,” introduces us to our “grumbling” heroine, Jo, arguably one of the strongest female characters in early American Literature. Jo and her three sisters’€Meg, Beth, and Amy’€are all different in their expectations of what the holidays will and should bring to them, and they learn from each other (and often in spite of each other!) what it means to give even when you think you have nothing left to offer.

The novel continues into their escapades with sickness, boys, school, and the struggle against social restrictions placed on women in their time. But the idea of what Christmas can mean’€reaching out to others in spite of your own pain’€is one that permeates their lives as well as the rest of the story.

Many readers consider Little Women to be a children’s novel; it is certainly not one of the power players of academic American literature. However, the book has never been out of print since its publication in 1868 and is incredibly popular in other parts of the world.

While most of this fame has to do with the novel’s enduring themes such as the strength of family bonds, the conflict between one’s inner and outer worlds, and the difficulty of making decisions, I think it also has a lot to do with some elements of holiday magic’€from limes and snow and surprises to the fulfillment of helping others.

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