I finished Little Women today.
I’m so glad to have finally read this book. Between the movie and the musical, I already had a great love for the story. The movie version with Christian Bale and Winona Ryder won my heart years ago, the musical soundtrack captured my soul at once, and the novel has completed my love for this story. I cried through most of the reading, envisioning tender moments from the movie, or hearing the wonderful songs from the musical as I read. Having now read the book, I can say with certainty that Winona Ryder played an excellent Jo, no better Professor Bhaer could have been cast than Gabriel Byrne, Susan Sarandon is now definitely not my first choice for Marmee, Eric Stoltz will always be John Brooke to me, Trini Alvarado was a fairly good choice for Meg, Christian Bale did well as Laurie, Samantha Mathis played wonderfully as older Amy (while Kirsten Dunst left much to be desired as the younger), and with the exception of one scene, Claire Danes played Beth quite satisfactorily.
Alcott’s writing style is a little like Austen’s. She writes in great detail, and has more description of the action of the story than she has conversation. I’ll admit, I skimmed over some of the more ‘descriptive’ sections that seemed to add nothing more to the story than length.
I was surprised to find so many spiritual references within the novel that have been left out of other versions of the story. I’m not surprised they were left out, mind you, we are dealing with Broadway and Hollywood here, but surprised at how devoted to God Alcott seemed to be. I was delighted to find many references to scripture, and many other good teaching moments. She has a great understanding of the truth of God’s word, and I was impressed with how she managed to write a novel that pointed to God without annoying the reader by making them feel as though it was being shoved down their throat. In that sense, she reminded me much of Tolkien.
There is little more I can say without spoiling the story for anyone who may not have read it, and I always prefer to assume that a person has not read a novel to avoid ruining their reading experience.
I am giving the novel 5 out of 5 stars, based on both the merit of the story, and the position of the book in classic literature. I think that every woman (and man, to be honest) should have the privilege of reading this book at one point or another in their life.