Now that I’ve finished part one of Little Women, I finally get it. I know, I’m late, I always seem to be behind the curve. For so many years I have heard people rave about Little Women but I never understood what the attraction was. On the surface, Little Women appears simplistic, way too sentimental, and preachy. The writing is old-fashioned and hard to relate to. But now, I finally understand. It’s the same reason why I swooned over the Harry Potter series, and it’s what I love best about good books and good movies: thorough, realistic, delicious character development.
Louisa was a master at character development, I’ve decided. As the book covers the course of one year, there is much growth in Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy, and in Laurie too. I never once, however, thought that any of that change and growth was out of character. Louisa patiently and gradually built on each character, brick by brick, so that every change made perfect sense. Even Amy’s spiritual awakening made perfect sense to me. I found myself reading each chapter and suddenly realizing, “wow, ‘such-and-such’ has really changed,” and it was immensely satisfying. It happened again and again. And I fell in love with each character, became vested in them, and really wanted to know what would happen to them. That’s what rich character development does.
I had read that readers in Louisa’s time loved Little Women because of its realistic portrayal of family life, and in the development of girls into women. Because Louisa based it so much on family members that she knew so well and had documented so carefully in her journals, it’s no wonder that realism shown through. It must have been refreshing, perhaps even radically so. It certainly was different.
I particularly enjoyed the evolution of Meg and John’s love for each other. It was introduced simply and subtly and grew at a natural pace. The fun of it was watching it grow, even if the characters themselves were unaware of it. It was like I, the reader, knew a secret that they didn’t know and that’s cool.
I could go on and on about why this book is now right up there with Harry Potter (my all time favorite series) but suffice it to say, I’m SO glad there is a part two, and I cannot wait to begin reading it!