One down, eleven to go!
I’ve completed my first book of the 2012 TBR Challenge (for my previous post on the challenge, go here). Little Women is a book I’ve wanted to read forever. When I was growing up, I remember my mom had an abridged version up in the hall closet that I would pull down every once in awhile and attempt to read. For some reason, I never got much past the first chapter. I’ve seen the movie more than a dozen times (the Winona Ryder and Susan Sarandon version – which I LOVE), but I knew I would be missing out on a some sort of literary rite of passage if I didn’t read the book.
The book is huge. That abridged version I had as a kid did nothing to prepare me for the 400+ page volume I hefted around for a week. Clearly there was going to be a lot more than they were able to show in the movie. As paged my way through, I fell in love with the March girls and their charming New England world all over again.
SPOILER ALERT! (But really, who doesn’t know this story????)
One of the parts I found most moving was the scene where Jo rejects Laurie. It was much more powerful in the book than the movie. I felt like we really got to see the depth of longing and hurt that Laurie experienced and it just about broke my heart. About to embark for Europe to get over his heartbreak, Laurie goes next door to say good-bye to the March family:
When the parting came, he affected high spirits, to conceal certain inconvenient emotions which seemed inclined to assert themselves. This gaiety did not impose upon anybody, but they tried to look as if it did, for his sake, and he got on very well till Mrs. March kissed him, with a whisper full of motherly solicitude; then, feeling that he was going very fast, he hastily embraced them all around…as if for his life. Jo followed a minute after to wave her hand to him if he looked round. He did look round, came back, put his arms about her, as she stood on the step above him, and looked up at her with a face that made his short appeal both eloquent and pathetic.
“Oh Jo, can’t you?”
“Teddy, dear, I wish I could!”
That was all, except for a little pause; then Laurie straightened himself up, said, “It’s all right, never mind,” and went away without another word. Ah, but it wasn’t all right, and Jo did mind; for while the curly head lay on her arm a minute after her hard answer, she felt as if she ahd stabbed her dearest friend; and when he left her without a look behind him, she knew that the boy Laurie never would come again.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Juvenile fiction | 528 pages | Barnes & Noble Classics | March 2004 (orginally published 1868) | 9781593081089 | Personal copy