Little Women Open Forum

Let’s start talking!

This post is acting as an open forum. Feel free in your comments to post any subjects you’d like to discuss or anything that you come across as you begin to read Little Women and we will talk about it.

For example: the last time I read Little Women I gravitated towards Amy because I had done so much reading on May Alcott Nieriker. This time I am paying strict attention to Beth in order to learn more about Lizzie Alcott. Reading between the lines is rather fun!

As a starter, I found this blog post from – the writer focused on Beth as the introvert and had some interesting insights. Beth, of course, was an introvert but it was one of those occasions for me where I couldn’t see the forest through the trees! I began to identify with her a lot more as I am an introvert too.

What are you focusing on?

And for those of you who are reading for the first time, tell us what you think as you go through the book.

This series on Little Women will go for a while as I am a slow reader. Plenty of time for everybody to chime in!

And I promise, we won’t forget about Eight Cousins, I am making my way through that too.

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15 Replies to “Little Women Open Forum”

  1. I am going to focus on feminist themes, especially as I will be posting on this book at A Year of Feminist Classics. I am also interested in Alcott’s language and want to compare her style with that in her “adult” novels, Moods and Work.

  2. I just read something very interesting that made me think of Beth/Lizzie during her last illness. I saw Les Miserables on Sunday (it was awesome) and wanted to check out Victor Hugo’s book and read the following out of the first section called “Fantine.” This is a description of an elderly spinster but there were several words in the description that sounded so much like Beth (and Lizzie) as she neared death:

    “Mademoiselle Baptistine was a long, pale, thin, gentle creature; she realized the ideal expressed by the word “respectable”; for it seems that a woman must needs be a mother in order to be venerable. She had never been pretty; her whole life, which had been nothing but a succession of holy deeds, had finally conferred upon her a sort of pallor and transparency; and as she advanced in years she had acquired what may be called the beauty of goodness. What had been leanness in her youth had become transparency in her maturity; and this diaphaneity allowed the angel to be seen. She was a soul rather than a virgin. Her person seemed made of a shadow; there was hardly sufficient body to provide for sex; a little matter enclosing a light; large eyes forever drooping;-a mere pretext for a soul’s remaining on the earth.”

    I loved that last line, “a mere pretext for a soul’s remaining on the earth.”

    This is a stretch, I realize, but the whole description of holy deeds, transparency and the beauty of goodness surely suits Beth (and Lizzie) as well.

    Just a thought. 🙂

  3. Oh! Yay! I’m so excited to see this forum about Little Women. I won’t be joining for another month or so, if you’re still going… but in May I am opening a reading challenge for anyone to join in and read any of Louisa’s books. Myself, I’m starting with Little Women and I’m going to work through its sequels through the rest of the summer for the challenge. I posted on this a week or so ago. Regardless, I’m going to keep up with your forum here and collect some thoughts. Reading as a group is always fun!

    And FYI…. Les Miserables is in my top 3 books of all time. If you’ve never read it, it’s worth a read!

    1. We will be discussing Little Women on and off for a while so anytime you want to chime in, please do. You’re always welcome too to chime in on old posts. I’m notified whenever there is a comment posted.

      Can you please post here on this forum your May reading challenge with a link to your site? I’m sure my readers would want to know about it.

      I admit I was intimidated with Les Miserables as a book. I downloaded an ebook sample and found the writing style difficult. The length is overwhelming! However, in the last two years since I started reading again, my reading ability has definitely improved (for example, I can now read the Bible in old English and understand it, which I never could do before. And I can read Dickens). So maybe as my skill increases, I can consider Les Mis. It’s certainly a wonderful story!

      1. Well, if anyone is interested right now in my coming reading challenge, you can look here:
        That page will continually update when I pick up the series in May. Starting on March 31st, I have a series of Titanic posts I’m currently working on….. why do I have to have to many interests, each one requiring so much research and reading all the time!? Sometimes I think I’m the only one until I come read your blog and see how much research you put into certain subjects about LMA, etc. Your blog inspires me!!!

        Anywho, I’m probably going to be lurking around this forum post every few days or so. Les Mis is a thick book… it still stands as the largest book I’ve ever read and it took me at least 2 months or more when I did read it. By the way, I’m currently reading “David Copperfield” by Charles Dickens… it’s 1000 pages long, but entirely the best novel I’ve read from Dickens!!

      2. Hah! Boy can I relate. 🙂 Thank you, that means a lot! Doing the research is so fun, it feels more like a game.

  4. Hi Susan,

    Thanks for visiting and commenting on my blog! Beth was not a violinist, but she was a pianist, and as a child I identified with her as an introvert who didn’t like to perform in front of people. It was hard to imagine her grown up, but now I have this alternate history of her in my mind as a piano teacher who was beloved by her students.

    I tried to comment here last night but it doesn’t seem to have worked, so I’m trying again. Sorry if there’s a duplication.

    1. The piano teacher beloved by students is Polly in Alcott’s next story for girls, An Old Fashioned Girl. It is true that Polly is not as shy as Beth, but she is gentle, unlike the fiery Jo.

      1. That’s nice to know. The only LMA book I have read is Little Women. This site is making me think it’s time to try some others!

      2. My favorite part of An Old-Fashioned Girl was the middle where Polly was out on her own as a working girl. There is a wonderful section about her being part of a sisterhood of purposeful, working women. If you search for An Old-Fashioned Girl on this site, you will find some posts about the book.

    2. Karen, thanks for visiting! I have taken a special interest in Lizzie Alcott and found your post to be most insightful about Beth. I would like to use it for my research if that’s okay. There isn’t a lot of hard information on Lizzie so I am taking a close look at Beth to find Lizzie’s voice.

      1. Susan, sure, you can use it. I knew LW was autobiographical and that Louisa modeled Jo on herself, but I hadn’t realized how closely Beth was also modeled on a real person. I have to admit, when I think of and identify with Beth, it’s with musician Beth and introverted Beth, but it is not with very-good-and-holy Beth. As far as selfishness and ambition go, I’d have to say I’m more like Jo and Amy.

      2. I think of myself as a combination of Jo and Beth – Beth as introverted, shy, trying to do good, and Jo, with ambition and thinking more like a man sometimes. I only wish I had been blessed with the physical ability to be a real tomboy! 🙂

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