Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott


This month the ladies at Five Minutes for Books are having a Louisa May Alcott themed book club. As I pondered about what to read for this (and after some google searching), I settled on Good Wives. I was determined not to blog about Little Women (which I have read until my copy is falling apart). However, Good Wives is actually the same thing as part two of Little Women - when the girls are grown and starting to get married and moving out of childhood. So, see ... I was meant to blog about Little Women. I can't help it. :)

I would imagine that almost everyone has read Little Women (and if you haven't, for shame.) :) It is one of my favorite stories of all time. One of those books that I turn to in the winter for post-Christmas comfort reading. The story of 4 sisters: Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy, and the tears and triumphs as they grow up and learn life's lessons. Just a few of my favorites that are scattered throughout the book:

~ As a mother of daughters, I love the gentle way that Mrs. March has with her girls, even though that is not her first nature. She shares with Jo how gentleness is not her first nature:

"...I've learned to check the hasty words that rise to my lips, and when I feel that they mean to break out against my will, I just go away for a minute, and give myself a little shake for being so weak and wicked..." (from Chapter 8)

~ The lessons that Meg learns as she goes to her first social event and is primped and fussed at until she is hardly recognizable and dressed outside the modest boundaries that her mother instilled in her. Meg basks in the adoration and complements of others until she runs into Laurie who is taken aback by her appearance. After Meg has returned home from the party, and confessed to Marmee, Mrs. March counsels:

"Learn to know and value to praise which is worth having, and to excite the admiration of excellent people by being modest as well as pretty, Meg." (from Chapter 9)

~ The girls learn that all play and no work is not as much fun as they may think. Over the past several months, it has been impressed upon me that for the most part, the generation of today is being taught that life is about fun and ease and having it all whenever we want it. The concept of work - within the family as a team and for the good of self and society is an old fashioned concept. In the story, the March girls ask their mother if they can take a week off and have a true vacation. Mrs. March says:

"You may try your experiment for a week and see how you like it. I think by Saturday night you will find that all play and no work is as bad as all work and no play."

By the end of the week, after several tragedies have befallen the young ladies, they all agree that all play and no work is not pleasant. Mrs. March closes this chapter with several wonderful quotes:

"...I wanted you to see how the comfort of all depends on each doing her share faithfully. While Hannah and I did your work, you got on pretty well, thought I don't think you were very happy or amiable; so I thought, as a little lesson, I would show you what happens when everyone thinks only of herself. Don't you fell that it is pleasanter to help one another, to have daily duties which make leisure sweet when it comes, and to bear and forbear, that home may be comfortable and lovely to us all?"

"Then let me advise you to take up your little burdens again, for though they seem heavy sometimes, they are good for us, and lighten as we learn to carry them. Work is wholesome, and there is plenty for everyone; it keeps us from ennui and mischief, is good for healthy and spirits, and gives us a sense of power and independence better than money or fashion."

"...Have regular hours for work and play, make each day both useful and pleasant, and prove that you understand the worth of time by employing it well. Then youth will be delightful, old age will bring few regrets, and life became a beautiful success, in spite of poverty." (from Chapter 11)

Okay, I'll stop now. This is just a pinch of the wonderful lessons throughout this book. If you haven't read Little Women before now, please grab a copy of dive into it! And let me know if you do. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have!

7 comments:

  1. I've read Little Women but it has been years. I agree about the work/play thing. That's part of why we each have our own chores at my house that are done every day. I have a hope that one day they'll even be done without me asking. ;)

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  2. Even though it was written in the 1800's it still has lessons to be learned even today. Here is mine

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  3. I believe that I did read Good Wives (as Pt 2 of LW) years and years ago. It would be worth revisiting for sure.

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  4. Great thoughts! I loved hearing what you had to share as the book related to your own life. I remember thinking a great deal more of Mrs. March when I re-read the book as an adult. She's an admirable character for sure.

    Thanks for linking up!

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  5. I love Little Women! It was actually the first unabridged book I read. After reading it I started to call my mom Marme, but it never stuck.

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  6. I loved "Little Women," but haven't picked it up in AGES! You've inspired me to re-read :)

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  7. Now I know I definately have a copy of Little Women somewhere but I don;t think I have ever read it!! So I feel as I have been officially reprimanded I should dig it out and read!!!

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Thanks for commenting!