My rating: 5 of 5 stars
What a lovely book. Turning the pages of this one was simply a joy and I was sad when I had to put it down, the mark of a truly wonderful tale.
The story revolves around the four March girls and their mother in this familial, coming of age story that takes place in America during the 1860’s. All of the members of the March clan exhibit strong moral character and equally strong love for each other.
Meg, the prettiest and oldest is also perhaps the most “typical”. She longs to grow up, marry, and live in a fine, fashionable house. Jo is more contrarian. She is boyish and a little too care free for her own good. Though gifted as a writer, her tongue often gets her into trouble, but she defends those she cares about fiercely and, this coupled with her independent spirit, leads her to experience more heartache the the rest of the girls. Beth comes next. She is shy and timid, but possesses such a sweet, innocent disposition that she is universally loved by all who meet her. Finally there is Amy, who comes off as silly and very immature in the beginning of the novel, but who tempers her people-pleasing tendencies with age and grows up to be a caring young woman in her own right.
The one slight flaw of the novel is that the story might have been a bit longer than it needed to be. Perhaps cutting out some of the letters and poems might have helped, but in general the story as a whole “marches” on quite nicely and rarely misses a beat. Alcott’s gift as a writer lies in her ability to create completely unique, likable characters. The reader really feels a part of the March family as the narrative unfolds. I found myself joyful in their triumphs and heart-broken in their sorrows. One particular scene had me crying harder than I can remember crying in a long while. You’ll know which one when you read it.
But it’s not just all emotion and drama. Here you will find nuggets of wisdom, lessons about character, and portraits of a time when America was frankly a more honest, wholesome, and good country. Themes like hard work, the joy of appreciating the simple things in life, and clinging to faith in God are all given ample time within the pages of this book. I found myself underlining passage after rich passage as Alcott’s insights and observations about life came drifting in through the events of the story. This is one every English-speaking person should read and own, particularly members of the American audience. A brilliant achievement, an amazing read, one of the best of all time.