North Carolina, 1863. As the American Civil War rages on, the Freedmen’s Colony of Roanoke Island is blossoming, a haven for the recently emancipated. Black people have begun building a community of their own, a refuge from the shadow of the old life. It is where the March family has finally been able to safely put down roots with four young daughters:
Meg, a teacher who longs to find love and start a family of her own.
Jo, a writer whose words are too powerful to be contained.
Beth, a talented seamstress searching for a higher purpose.
Amy, a dancer eager to explore life outside her family’s home.
As the four March sisters come into their own as independent young women, they will face first love, health struggles, heartbreak, and new horizons. But they will face it all together.
When I say I loved this book, I mean I loved this book. It felt like a Black love letter to Little Women, and I want to write a love letter to this book.
Now, there are some books that are inspired by other stories that I feel like you don’t need to read to understand the original version – such as A Sky Painted Gold by Laura Wood which is inspired by The Great Gatsby. I definitely found more of a sense of enjoyment with that book due to having read Gatsby not so long ago, and I found it fun to unpick where certain scenes in the story were inspired by the original, but it wasn’t needed at all to read the original.
But So Many Beginnings is a different story. With this one, it feels firmly within the rounds of being written purely for fans of the original story. We don’t differ much from the plot or the characters we know and love. For me, this worked so well because I went into this story already having such a strong connection to the characters, and I loved them. Although there is slight differences in character relationships and dynamics (and these changes I really liked!), but the main characteristics remain the same.
I was a little hesitant going into this one, not knowing what to expect from the retelling, but it just did every aspect so well. The main divergence from the main story was, obviously, the little women themselves and the family being Black and living in the American Civil War. I was worried going in that the narrative and dialogue would feel unnatural or forced – I found this a little with A Sky Painted Gold, that the narrative of the main character felt a bit too modern for the time period. However, the dialogue, discussions and conversations felt entirely natural and authentic.
It is discussed at the end of the book in an authors note how this story is partially inspired by true diaries and research that has been done about the time period, and this shone through so well. The discussions about racism were incredible and so powerful.
There is just nothing I can point out about this book that I didn’t like – the changes were perfect, but were balanced so well with the original story. The characters were so likeable and lovely, and the discussions were very well done. What a book.
5 out of 5 stars
May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽