Monday, July 11, 2011

Book Review: The Little Women Letters

Book Review:  The Little Women Letters
 by Gabrielle Donnelly

With a new generation of sisters, it explores the imagined lives of Jo March's descendants-three sisters who are thoroughly modern and thoroughly March.  With her older sister planning a wedding and her younger sister launching a career on the London stage, Lulu can't help but feel like the failure of the family.  She wants nothing but the best for her sisters, but finds herself in a rut, wandering from one dead-end job to another, with no romantic prospects in sight. However, when her mother sends her on an errand to the attic, Lulu stumbles upon a collection of letters written by her great-great grandmother, Josephine March.  Jo's letters revisit the Louisa May Alcott's classic, telling of Meg's marriage, Amy's many boyfriends, and  Beth's illness.  Lulu finds guidance by reading the words written so long ago, despite her world being so different from the one that Jo knew.

I absolutely loved this new take on an old classic.  The dialogue really makes the book fantastic-it's sparkling, funny, sweet, and honest.  And like Little Women, the enormous cast of characters are relatable to every reader.  I'd especially suggest it to anyone with a sister; I'm sure the squabbles you'll read will resemble some you've had yourself.  Now that I've finished reading it, I think I'll hand over my worn copy to Becky.  

Unfortunately, I've never finished reading Little Women, so I found myself "forced" to watch the 1949 movie to understand exactly what was going on with the letter flashbacks.  Of course, it really wasn't much of a struggle; with the 1860s period clothing and Elizabeth Taylor as its star it was definitely one I'd wanted to check off my list anyway.  It's Louisa May Alcott's autobiographical account of her life, growing up with her three sisters in Concord, Mass. With their father fighting in the Civil War, Jo, Meg, Amy and Beth are at home with their mother.  The story is of how the sisters grow up, find love and find their place in the world.  Regardless of whether you read the book, if you have a Sunday afternoon to spare, I'd suggest you spend it watching this heartfelt film.

My Rating:  ****

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