The Little Things.

Sometimes you connect with a classic, sometimes you don't.
I am proud to announce that I've finally finished LITTLE WOMEN, something I never thought would happen. I genuinely worried that the year would close and I wouldn't know if Laurie won Jo over, or if Beth got better, or if they ever stopped calling their mom Marmee.

I mean, this book is a monster. Everyone said it was soooo good, so I wanted to give it the benefit of the doubt. I realize now that the many people who told me it was "soooo good" read it when they were 14 or under, i.e. had nothing better to do with their time. "Make a lanyard or... Little Women?"
So yeah, this is a long book, and I"m sensitive to that. Only certain books should get to be long. Was she paid by the word like Dickens? I'll have to look that up. Anyhow, I kept joking that Little Women needed a Little Editor.

The fact that I got to check this off my reading list makes me proud enough to post about it.
It's always interesting to read a classic and see what you can still relate to and what you can't. At first, this was a hard sell for me. Look, I love my sister too, but the family March was a bit MUCH. I suppose that's the charm of the book- a completely functional family, free of discord, a domestic mutual admiration society. Back when the book came out it made it a page-turner. But in 2009 I found it hard to read because I was rolling my eyes so much. I know that's sad, trust me.

After I put the book down, I thought maybe I should rewrite this book more realistically, say, using my own family.

(Scene Opens: Family is sitting by fireplace which is not on because dad thinks it's a waste)

Sister: Lilly dearest, would you give me a hand with this knitting?

Lilly: I already told you where you can put that knitting.

Sister: Well then, will you tell me a story, kind sister?

Lilly: Sure, I'll tell you a story. It's about someone annoying the $#!? out of another person who is trying to read her book.

Sister: Well, shall we go pick flowers in the field and sketch by the river bank?

Lilly: Um, no.

Sister: Why don't we cozy around the fireplace and sing songs!

Brother: Why that sounds truly delightful! I do wish to hear your sweet voices sisters. If only I might hear them every moment of every day in song. Perhaps for now we can sing songs about the castle in the sky? Gather 'round the piano.

Lilly: Whatever are you smoking, dear siblings?


Sister: Marmee has prepared a 5 course feast for us! What joy!

Dad: I don't want to eat. I had a hot dog. Susie, you want a hot dog?

Sister: I have been a vegetarian for 16 years dad, no thanks.

I spent much of my reading being amazed at the lifestyle. I mean, the BIGGEST thing they had to do on a given day was go in search of lavender ribbon or set a table -- oh wait, they had a servant to do that. Makes you think we might have the big gyp living in the modern day. At one point, little sister Amy goes to live abroad. And it's for THREE years. She just galavants around with wealthy relatives. I mean, where can a girl sign up for that? Because

I'm happy to report that some social factors stayed consistent through time. People gossip. Parents worry about their kids. Girls play hard to get but the secretly kiss when their chaperones aren't looking. Ok, and I laughed at the chapter about neglecting one's husband after having kids.

That said, the last 150 pages of the book picked up the pace and helped me understand why this is a classic. I found myself completely enraptured in the blossoming love of Jo and Fritz. I don't remember the last time I found literary romances the slight bit engrossing, but all of those in this book ultimately felt real and natural (possibly because they developed in real-time, as it took me months to read...)
Through huge life changes the family sticks together and love is found in the most unlikely of places. The final couplings aren't who you'd think they'd be, but they work. And Jo is an incredibly modern character; one that readers a zillion years later can still relate to (read: me) I will confess that I openly wondered, ever a victim of the TV generation, if she was the basis for Jo on the Facts of Life, but that's neither here nor there.

What can I say? It left a good taste in my mouth. Maybe saccharine isn't always a bad thing.


Erin said...

It's been awhile, but I loved the (much shorter) sequel, Little Men, too. I recommend it!