About 13 years ago, on my 10th birthday, I opened my first copy of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.
It was the full length–465 pages. I will admit, I read the first half of the book at least 5 times through until reading the entire book. Like a high school sweet heart I fell quick and hard for this book.
As a child I was fairly quiet, especially around strangers; however, once I warmed up to a person my true nature–a loud laugh, quite a bit of snorting, and a touch of wild–broke through. I’d like to say I’ve grown and I am more outgoing from the beginning but eh I don’t think that would be an honest claim.
When I first read Little Women, I remember being positively drawn to Jo and Beth. Put them together, and you will meet a 10 year old Deanna.
Jo’s quick wit, snarky comments, drive for independence, and quiet but fierce heart is who I strived to be; however, I lived a bit more like timid and sweet Beth.
I immediately connected to Little Women because of Alcott’s straightforward lessons with romanticized language. Also, it was the first book (alongside Little House on the Prairie and Junie B. Jones) that I read as a child that featured faults in young women and girls. Most books, at least when I was 10 and under, that have girls as main characters depict them as sweet perfect angels.
To say the least, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott can definitely help a timid yet passionate young girl feel heard and seen.
History of Little Women
On September 30, 1868, the first edition of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott was published. The suspicions and inferences are true–Little Women was loosely based off of Alcott’s own family.
Alcott was born into a family of humanists. Her father was a transcendentalist so Alcott grew up around significant literary influences like Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Theodore Parker who were central figures in the movement.
Similar to Jo, Louisa May Alcott, took it upon herself to provide for her parents and sisters by selling her writing. Prior to writing, she worked as a tutor and domestic helper.
Alcott, coming from a humanitarian family, volunteered as a nurse during the Civil War. While volunteering she wrote a series called Hospital Sketches; this publication established her as a professional writer.
She began writing for The Atlantic Monthly, but shortly realized she needed to write something that would produce a more substantial income for her family. Her publisher suggested she write a women’s or young girls’ series; initially that was not an appealing pitch to her because it was nothing like her original writing.
After working on the piece for some time she decided a strong girls’ series is exactly what young women of the time needed.
Little Women sold out within only a few months after the initial publication; that is an amazing accomplishment for a writer during the 19th century…think about it, there was no form of consistent marketing.
Little Women remains a revered and well-loved story. There have been numerous book and movie adaptations over the 150 plus years since Alcott published her novel.
The most recent movie adaptation, released in 2019 and directed by Greta Gerwig, was an absolute hit. Not only did it make old fans of the classic story fall back in love with the March family, it also attracted new fans who had not yet experienced Alcott’s tale. Gerwig’s adaptation featured large names like:
- Emma Watson
- Meryl Streep
- Florence Pugh
- Saoirse Ronan
- Eliza Scanlen
- Timothée Chalamet
Louisa May Alcott’s novel consistently acts as a beacon of light, refreshment, and empowerment for many young women.
Why Does Little Women still Resonate for me?
The easy answer–I’m still growing.
I believe with each stage of my life, I will relate to a different March character. Life is not easy, and most likely never will be. When I need comfort, I turn to Little Women.
Is it because it’s a familiar storyline and I know what will happen? Probably
I think it’s also because Little Women is simply a story of life. Lives that are hard and easy, dark and light, solemn and cheerful, and lost and loving. Little Women gives me comfort because it taught me that:
If you’ve read the book and loved it, let us know why below! If you have yet to read it, think about it.
Also, the movies are great, but the book is the true gold.