Fizzy Thoughts

Little Women

with 19 comments

little women

Little Women
Louis May Alcott
first published 1868

***WARNING: I will be discussing why some people consider this a freezer book.***

So going into my re-read of this classic, I only remembered two things from my first experience (and I can’t even remember when that first experience was): Beth dies, and Jo marries the wrong man.Β At least that was my childish recollection of things.

Boy, things sure can change when you re-read things as an adult.

My thoughts after the re-read have been revised to something like this:

  • Why did it take so long for Beth to die?? Pardon the expression, but I felt she needed to either shit, or get off of the pot. In other words, choose to live, or die already, you wishy-washy spineless little miss. Perhaps it was because I knew it was coming, or perhaps it was because I didn’t like her this go-around, but I was relieved to finally hit the Valley of the Shadows chapter. No need for the freezer for me! In fact, I might have uttered a little yippee.
  • Marmee. Holy hell lady, you need to shove a sock in it. I soon got tired of all of her Marmee-isms. I have a fairly clean house, but I’m sure that paragon of cleanliness would just die of apoplexy should she see it. Along with me sitting around reading instead of cleaning. Or that Hamburger is often left to find his own dinner (something that he is most capable of) should I not feel like cooking dinner. Sorry Marmee, but I am all about the downtime.
  • Also, you gave away your daughters’ breakfast to the poor? That’s nice, but they were hungry, too! I could so call CWS on you, bitch
  • I was actually glad that Jo didn’t marry Laurie (aka the mopey little shit). I actually like Amy and Laurie as a couple, even if I was a little worried for Amy as the rebound girl. And then I was a little worried for their little girl. You know, with a name like Beth. Do you want the poor child to be a sickly little girl that only wants to die?!?
  • It’s a good thing this was written before Teddy Bears hit the market, because Jo and Professor Bhaer named their child Teddy. That’s right. Teddy Bhaer. Swear to god, that was the funniest thing in the whole book, and it wasn’t even menat to be.
  • Mr. March is so forgettable I was actually surprised to see that he was even in the book!

And okay, I know I’m being particularly harsh and judging this book on by my modern standards, but the focus on being all motherly and housewifey made me cringe. Often and frequently. And as I’m sure you guessed, I found it overly preachy. With the emphasis on being a home-maker and wanting to die, I’m not really sure why this book is still around. I’m tempted to say it was the Twilight of the time, only you know…better written.

Go ahead…string me up for bashing such a beloved book.

Written by softdrink

March 18, 2013 at 1:00 am

19 Responses

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  1. Hey, I’m not casting any stones. I’ve never even read the book, but if what you say is true, I’d have the same issues. I’m not very patient with preachy housewifery nor the hundred page (or whatever) death scene. I also notice that in these “old” books, they tend to WILL themselves to die in great martyr fashion. Oh my! The virile rogue just broke my heart! I think I’ll just lay here in bed until I die! That will show him!

    Sandy

    March 18, 2013 at 3:24 am

  2. Teddy Bhaer – you’re killing me!

    rhapsodyinbooks

    March 18, 2013 at 3:32 am

  3. I never picked up on the Teddy Bhaer thing. Ha! I still love the book.

    Beth F

    March 18, 2013 at 4:23 am

  4. You have just made me feel less the heathen for never being able to get through this book. Thank you. πŸ™‚

    Debi

    March 18, 2013 at 5:39 am

  5. I liked this book when I read it but it’s been YEARS. The movie makes me cry pretty much through the whole thing.

    And omgggg such a relief to hear you say that about Jo/Laurie bc I feel a bit guilty that it’s not the great devastation of my reading life about romances (lol ships) or whatever it is to so many ppl I know!

    Amy @ My Friend Amy

    March 18, 2013 at 7:43 am

  6. I was also glad that Jo and Laurie didn’t get together. I mean, how many times can she tell him that she thinks of him as a brother! I also thought that Beth’s death scene was dragged out, and that Marmee was all about the housewife business. I agree with all your points, but I did like the book. I though the girls were whiny a lot of the time, and that annoyed me. I am almost afraid to write a review, because of the scathing comments I will get. It was a great book, but there were times I cringed. Why did everyone have to get married???

    zibilee

    March 18, 2013 at 9:07 am

  7. Random comments:
    I thought Beth was going to die in the chapter when she was sick, and then she didn’t, which was annoying because now I was going to have to read another chapter where Beth dies. Out loud.

    The preachiness did drive me a little nuts, especially reading it aloud to my son. I will admit we skipped a paragraph here and there, a la “And then she goes on some more about that….and….here we go.”

    When I read this as a kid I was convinced Jo was wrong to reject Laurie. And Evan, at 12, was convinced of the same thing.

    Teddy Bhaer–totally got past me! So, thanks for that.

    Ali

    March 18, 2013 at 11:13 am

  8. I confess I not only haven’t read the book, but I’ve never had the desire to even try it. I love this review. Now I at least can say I know what happens. πŸ˜‰

    Literary Feline

    March 18, 2013 at 11:40 am

  9. I couldn’t stand this book, either. It was SO oogy-gooey sweet, uhg.

    What is a freezer book?

    heidenkind

    March 18, 2013 at 8:36 pm

    • The freezer book (at least to my knowledge) is a reference to the sitcom Friends when Joey used to read the Shining but it scared him so he would put it in the freezer. He thought that the title Little Women referred to them being freakishly small and after he learned that was not what it was about he started reading it, was saddened by Beth and this book too had to be put the book in the freezer. πŸ™‚

      Sheila (Book Journey)

      March 29, 2013 at 7:09 am

  10. I noticed this time that Marmee got really huffy about the remarks made by the Moffatts when Meg went to “Vanity Fair”. Later on, when Jo wants to talk to her about the “problem” with John Brooke, she automatically assumes that the problem has to do with Ned Moffatt.

    bybee

    March 20, 2013 at 5:34 pm

  11. I chuckled reading this post because although I love the film version, I couldn’t like this book no matter how hard I tried. It was alternately boring and annoying ha ha.

    Jeane

    March 21, 2013 at 2:08 pm

  12. I would string you up for bashing my most beloved childhood book but I have to agree with you on many points…except Beth, I still get a little catch in my throat when she dies. It is preachy, I did feel like Amy was the rebound girl. Knowing what I do about Alcott now, particularly in light of the fact that Jo is modeled on her, it does seem odd that the book so focuses on being motherly and a good little housekeeper.

    Lisa

    March 23, 2013 at 7:20 am

  13. I can’t even remember if I actually read this one…

    Trisha

    March 24, 2013 at 11:15 am

  14. I am still listening to this on audio and listening to it today while lounging and checking on blogs and maybe (maybe) working in the book room but at this moment (Marmee forgive me) I may not get out of this recliner today as I am tired and after I am done checking out blogs I may read the rest of the day away….

    Loved your post – mine will be up later this week.

    Sheila (Book Journey)

    March 24, 2013 at 12:13 pm

  15. Best sentence in a book review goes to: “I could so call CWS on you, bitch”. Luv. πŸ™‚

    Vasilly

    March 27, 2013 at 9:52 am

  16. Well my memories of this book are the same as your childish ones so I shall NOT be reading it if this is what the reaction is!!!

    Jenners

    March 27, 2013 at 6:12 pm

  17. I wasn’t crazy about it when I read it a few years ago. I total missed Teddy Bhaer πŸ˜‰

    stacybuckeye

    March 27, 2013 at 9:56 pm

  18. I don’t think I ever made it all the way through this one so I don’t really mind you bashing it. I know that my mother was always trying to get me to read it when I was younger, but I had such a hard time getting into it. Maybe the inner feminist in me was already beginning to grumble.

    Jennifer

    April 2, 2013 at 6:18 pm


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