Review: Good Wives by Louisa May Alcott

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Good Wives is the second story about the March family. Three years on from Little Women, the March girls and their friend Laurie are young adults with their futures ahead of them. Although they all face painful trials along the way – from Meg’s sad lesson in housekeeping to Laurie’s disappointment in love and a tragedy which touches them all – each of the girls finally finds happiness, if not always in the way they expect. The book includes a behind-the-scenes journey, including an author profile, a guide to who’s who, activities and more.. 

This review is for Good Wives, or part 2 of Little Women. My review for the first part can be found here. Most editions of the book will contain both parts and will be commonly called Little Women in it’s entirety, but the Wordsworth children’s collectors edition I read ended at the end of part 1. I then borrowed my boyfriend’s copy of the Penguin Paperback Classic (found here) which contains both parts so I could finish the story properly!

Good Wives is set 3 years after Little Women, when the sisters are presumably in their late teens. Not surprisingly due to the name of the book, this part mainly focuses on the sisters settling down into relationships and moving out of the family home. I enjoyed the way this book uses letters between the girls and Marmee, as well as focusing on where they are throughout the books.

Love is the only thing that we can carry with us when we go,

I really liked the way this book looks at marriage and relationships as the sisters get older, especially having the different opinions from the girls. This whole book is so fascinating in the way it looks at femininity and marriage, and I really love how all of the sisters have different ideas of how they want to fit what is expected of them as women. Meg is the very ‘traditional’ sister, married in the first chapter of Good Wives and satisfied largely by her little family. Jo, however, is the polar opposite, and very forward thinking for her time. Considering the time this book was published, it is a revolutionary piece of writing when it comes to Jo. She is definitely my favourite sister and the one I most admire and relate to.

Although I absolutely adore the sisters and learning about how they grow and develop over the course of Good Wives, this book definitely lost a little of the magic I felt in Little Women. I didn’t quite feel as connected to the sisters as I did during part 1, which I believe may be due to the fact they are not living in the same place and everything can feel a little jarring between sections. Little Women felt like such a comforting book, whereas this one is definitely slightly deeper and darker. I definitely believe this is due to the girls growing up and exploring more about themselves and their relationships. It just lost a little bit of innocence between the parts, which at least for me makes Little Women what it is.

and it makes the end so easy.

I’m so glad I read these parts separately, even if it was a complete accident! I believe that if I had read this as one book, it would have reached 5 stars for me, but I am glad I was able to judge this as a separate text. I still very much enjoyed this part of the story, and I know the story as a whole will be with me forever.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

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Goodreads | Waterstones

Little Women is one of the best-loved children’s stories of all time, based on the author’s own youthful experiences. It describes the family of the four March sisters living in a small New England community. Meg, the eldest, is pretty and wishes to be a lady; Jo, at fifteen is ungainly and unconventional with an ambition to be an author; Beth is a delicate child of thirteen with a taste for music and Amy is a blonde beauty of twelve. The story of their domestic adventures, their attempts to increase the family income, their friendship with the neighbouring Laurence family, and their later love affairs remains as fresh and beguiling as ever.

This is a story that has oddly been with me throughout my life, in one way or another. When I was a child, I picked this book up after reading Jane Eyre and loving it immensely. However, I couldn’t get into it and put it back down for another time. Likely over 10 years later, that other time finally arrived.

New Year’s Day 2020: me and my boyfriend decided to go to the cinema to see the brand new adaptation (I posted about it here!). It was packed, almost every seat taken, and we ended up craning our necks on the front row. Despite that, I fell in love with that film so deeply that I saw it another three times afterwards, also in cinema. Just over a year after that, I finally pick up my new Wordsworth classic edition, and fall in love all over again.

Take some books and read; that’s an immense help;

I don’t have sisters, but I imagine that this book portrays how having sisters really feels. The chaotic, arresting energy these girls have between them is addictive. I never fail to feel their undying love for one another and those around them, I just adore how the friendships and relationships really jump off the pages. The girls capture my heart again and again, with their bravery, self awareness, caring natures and childlike abandonment.

This book truly feels like a comfort read, and diving into it’s pages is like wrapping yourself in a warm blanket, or sinking into a warm bath. It is like that first sip of tea, when you can feel the warmth spreading around your body. I will never understand just how it works, how stories such as these can have such a calming and nurturing tone to them, but it feels like a gentle, comforting kind of magic.

and books are always good company if you have the right sort.

Without spoiling this book, I did feel very surprised at the ending, and it is something I will warn you of. Having known the story of Little Women for a long time, and having watched the 2019 movie adaptation, I knew what I was going into and fully expected to have a good cry. However, the original publication was actually in two parts – Little Women and Good Wives, with the second book being set 3 years after the original story. Now, it is highly common to find most editions of Little Women contain both halves of the story, but as it happens, mine did not. I imagine this is due to my edition being a children’s classic, and I would definitely recommend checking your copy if you are looking to read both books in one! Luckily, my boyfriend has a copy that includes both books, so I will definitely be carrying on fairly soon.

★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Let’s Discuss! Little Women Adaptation

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I wasn’t going to write a review or any kind of post for this movie, due to the pure fact I have never read the book. But after my third viewing of it in cinema, I knew I couldn’t resist any longer. I have to talk about my admiration for this cinematic masterpiece.

This film is just absolutely beautiful in every way. The scenery is superb. The lighting is lovely. The girls have my heart. I saw some of myself in each one of them, and I think that’s what makes this story so special. Jo’s spark, soul and courageous wit is who I think we all aspire to be. Beth’s caring nature is who I hope I am every day. Meg’s love for her family and John shines through, and I know in my heart I am and will be like her in many ways. Amy’s lust for life and raucous, somewhat unsettled character touched my heart. And although I could go on, I will finish on marmee, who I relate to on so many levels, but especially the ‘I bake scones at midnight and don’t mind the mess, we don’t’.

The energy in this film is electric, and I fell in love with the chaotic scenes between the girls. I often felt like Laurie, looking in on the family with adoration and wonder. He seemed to be almost yearning to be part of it all, to have the unrequited love that only occurs between family.

Everything seemed to fit seamlessly together – the costumes, sets and score are just a few aspects that come to mind that offer layer upon layer. The acting is superb, and specific scenes (Jo’s powerful and emotional speech in the attic to her mother comes to mind immediately (below)), I know will stay with me. Some of the beautifully poetic lines brought tears to my eyes even on the third watch.

“I just feel like women….they have minds and they have souls as well as just hearts. And they’ve got ambition and they’ve got talent as well as just beauty. And I’m so sick of people saying that, that love is just all a woman is fit for. I’m so sick of it. But I’m – I’m so lonely.”

Jo March, Little Women

I can only describe Little Women as an absolute delight and achingly beautiful. Coming out of the first screening with my boyfriend on New Year’s Day, I immediately knew I wanted to see it again and again. I already am endlessly glad that I began the year on such a lovely note. I have since seen it with my mum and my best friend, and both the second and third screening were just as enjoyable as the first. I just know that this film will be a comfort for years to come, and the level of warmth it brought to me will not leave in a hurry.

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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