The first three chapters of Little Women, Part Two (aka Good Wives) certainly didn’t disappoint! I loved how the first chapter (Chapter 24, Gossip) brought me up to date on all the major characters – it was like hanging around the water cooler at work finding out what happened on my favorite TV show last night. All the details were fascinating. I particularly liked the first formal description of Mr. March, based on Bronson Alcott. It was pretty romanticized, of course, but having immersed myself in Alcott lore for so many years, it all sounded so familiar.
Meg’s wedding in Chapter 25 was based fairly closely on Anna Alcott’s wedding to John Pratt. I’ve read accounts of Anna’s wedding many times and had to smile when Laurie suggested they all form a circle and dance around Meg and John “like the Germans do,” just like what I had read about Anna and John. It was such a sweet account. I loved the description of their Dove cottage – I was dying to see it (I always liked looking at other people’s houses :-)). It bothers me though that critics call John Brooke ‘boring’ because he is a good and steady man who dearly loves Meg and only wants to make her happy. Goodness, I guess, isn’t all that interesting.
By far my favorite chapter so far though was Chapter 26, Artistic Attempts. Watching Amy emerge as a young lady was so cool. Reading this on the heels of Caroline Ticknor’s May Alcott A Memoir made May Alcott come alive for me in an exciting new way. Again, it was all so familiar – the frenzied attempts at different forms of artistic expression (especially the poker-sketching, and Amy plaster casting her foot!). I’ve visited Orchard House several times and seen May’s pencil drawings on her bedroom walls and poker-sketchings in other parts of the homestead, so it was very cool to read about Amy doing these very things. Louisa’s description of Amy’s appearance and personality gave me wonderful insight into how she saw her youngest sister.
All the reading I’ve done over the years about the Alcotts is really paying off, adding such richness to my reading of Little Women. I can’t imagine reading the story without knowing all these things.