Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)
A joy to finally read, after seeing the 1933 and (the best) 1994 versions of the movie several times. I ate it up, cover to cover. I’m glad the novel gives more about the sisters’ lives after their marriages than either of the movies do, and while the families are clearly happy, Alcott does not tie up the conclusion with a perfect “not-a-care-in-the-world-and-happily-ever-after” bow. So disappointing to confirm how much the Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel film copied directly from Little Women, as far as Jo/Laurie and Anne/Gilbert are concerned, but that’s not Little Women’s fault, and though I may never be fully reconciled to the way Laurie “switches over” to Amy, I’m still fond of the story in spite of it.
Jo’s poem to Beth, toward the end, is one of the most moving pieces of the novel, as are Beth’s words to Jo, at the sea: “Jo dear, I’m glad you know it. I’ve tried to tell you, but I couldn’t.” Beth, in all of her virtue, is still portrayed as human: a dying, nineteen-year-old girl wondering if her short life has truly amounted to anything. One of my main questions going in was whether or not Alcott would make Beth a flawless, otherworldly angel, and I’m pleased that Alcott doesn’t.
Indeed, the 1994 film version by Columbia Pictures with Winona Ryder in her Oscar-nominated role as Jo (and a fantastic musical score by Thomas Newman) is the best film version of Little Women, but the 1933 release with Katharine Hepburn has its own “old movie” charm.