I read a post by Kristin Kieffer a while back. It was called “Do You Know What Drives Your Story’s Narrative?” Kristin discusses the driving force behind our narratives, describing what makes a plot-driven story and what makes a character-driven story, using examples from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. I was pleased when I was able to use my newfound knowledge of character-driven and plot-driven stories to identify which Little Women by Louisa May Alcott was.
Dear readers, it is a character-driven story.
Therefore, I feel the need to review it from its characters.
The March sisters’s loving mother. She, like all the other kindly mentors in other books, is often present in the March sisters’s lives and offers them guidance when they need it. I thought she was a nice character and mentor to have for the March sisters. There was only one part involving Marmee that I could not exactly accept. She did not want Meg to get married so young and so fast, but just because of a few quite normal things happening, she thinks a man involved was very nice all along and was free to marry Meg as long as Meg agreed. What?
Jo is the March sister who was the most prominently featured throughout the book. She was shown to be a character who was bold and ambitious. The problem was I did not like her much. I am not sure if it was the cocksure attitude or the fact that she kept turning up, but something about her irked me.
Meg was no better. I found her dull and there is something about the romance I think is quite forced and I cannot understand the urgency of getting her married off. She was the second most featured March sister, and I could not find much liking for her. She felt like a constant presence that I could not get rid of.
Beth reminded me a little of Jean Valjean from Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, excluding the inner turmoil. I liked reading about her. For one, she was good. A little too good, but what should not be overlooked is the fact that she is too shy and quiet. She is afraid of other people who are not part of her family. That fear can be somewhat restricting, and that made her more interesting than she would otherwise be.
Amy is the spoilt, youngest March sister. She is at times dull and predictable, but out of all other March sisters, I find her the most interesting one. Miserably though, she is the one who is featured the least. Some parts involving her were honestly unnecessary, and seemed to be just there to nudge the story along (such as the school incident).
Laurie was a fun character. He is the March sisters’s neighbour and their friend. He is nice to all of them, although he admittedly does get up to mischief sometimes. I would say he is the liveliest character out of the whole book, and one of the most likeable characters as well. Besides all this, there is nothing much to be said of him.
Being a character-driven story, Little Women is made up of little stories that are mainly about the cosy Southern life of the March family (and friends). I liked parts of the whole story, especially parts when the March sisters first met Laurie and his grandfather. I also enjoyed parts like the one where shy Beth starts going over to their neighbours’s house to play the piano. Parts I thought were boring are much more specific cases, like the Camp Laurence occasion and when the March sisters were having their little play at the beginning of the book. A part I disliked immensely was the ending, it was too rushed, sudden, and unpleasant.
The writing in Little Women was simple, easy to read and to get into. I felt very much like I was reading one of Enid Blyton’s books, namely The Magic Faraway Tree or any of the Famous Five books.
Overall, Little Women makes for a nice read, but not one that is extremely memorable or one that I will get back to for bouts of rereading. It is the kind of book that is pleasant to read when you are feeling idle and have nothing much to do on your hands.
Have regular hours for work and play; make each day both useful and pleasant, and prove that you understand the worth of time by employing it well. Then youth will bring few regrets, and life will become a beautiful success.
Little Women: goodreads