It took me a few days longer than I thought it would, but I finally finished Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. I am actually a bit surprised that in my 28 years as a woman, I never managed to read this one, especially in my younger years. Of course, it's reputation as THE must-read for teenage girls is probably the number one reason I never picked it up at that age since I was the kind of girl who refused to do anything she was expected to do.
Now that I've finally read and finished it, I think it would have done me a lot of good to read it back then. I could have learned a lesson or two from the March girls about listening too and respecting their mother and also about working hard and not being idle. The March girls are the model of perfect daughters, even with their very few faults. They are loving, good, respectful, grateful, and mild-mannered. My one major problem with the book is that it's hard to read page after page of perfection. Even when trouble arises they still act perfect and as expected. The few times one of them does something less than ideal it only takes but a few minutes for them to be remorseful about it. It's their perfection that bothered me the most. I am a very flawed individual as are most people. It gives you character and makes you more interesting to learn about. There are no surprises with perfect creatures. You know exactly how they will react and what they'll do in any situation and I think it even makes them less likeable. Have you ever met someone who an do no wrong? After a while it starts to drive you crazy and you find yourself just praying for them to lose it and start screaming at someone. That's what I was waiting for. Having seen the movie, I knew it wasn't going to happen but I was still hoping for an argument, or some drama.
Of course this could just be a sign of the times. The book begins near the end of the civil war and at the time it was expected of women to be perfect and angelic creatures who dream of nothing but serving others and being agreeable and good. So in that time, I'm sure the few instances of the girls being less than perfection probably stood out a lot more. Also, since Louisa May Alcott used her own family and sisters as her inspiration for the story, perhaps she wanted to paint them all in that kind of light as a tribute to them. I know that if I wrote a story about my own family I would have a hard time focusing on their faults as well and I can't blame her for wanting to portray them in a positive light.
For me, I just kept wondering what the big deal was. It was a good story but I just don't see what makes it as big of a classic as it has become. To me, it was just a nice story about four lovely girls and their fairly simple and unremarkable lives. It was easy to read as each chapter is like almost it's own little short story of some event that happens in the family over the years. However, I just didn't get absorbed into the book, I found it to be a little preachy. Almost, like listening to my grandmother telling me how I should think and act and I got as sick of hearing it from the book as I did from my grandma. Maybe it's just a problem with me though. My husband has three sisters, all of whom will praise this book to no end if you ask them. I do plan on making my daughter read it when she's a bit older though, maybe she'll take the lessons to heart and give me an easier time in her adolescence than I gave my own mother. A mother can dream, right?