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4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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on March 27, 2016
I read this to my sixth grade class and I thought there were a few chapters that dragged and it got a little wordy here and there- I was worried that they wouldn't love it like I did when I was a kid... but I was wrong. A full class of sixth graders was enraptured while I read this over three months. For many kids it is the longest book they will ever read!
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on October 16, 2015
a classic book i had to read. but a little dull at times... took me a while to get through it, but I'm glad I did. it gives you the warm and fuzzies. my biggest complaint is that the book fell apart but at this price I didn't really care. enjoy!
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Louisa May Alcott wrote many books, from her "blood and thunder" tales to heartwarming novels about teens growing up.

But there's something special about "Little Women," a fictionalized account of her own family's growing pins. Thewarmly realistic stories, sense of comedy and tragedy, and insights into human nature make the romance, humor and fun little anecdotes of "Little Women" come alive.

The four March girls -- practical Meg, rambunctious Jo, sweet Beth and childish artist Amy -- live in genteel New England poverty with their Marmee, while their father is away in the Civil War. The girls don't let lack of money hamper their fun and happiness. But their world starts to expand when Jo befriends "poor little rich boy" Laurie, and soon he and his tutor are almost a part of their family.

Along with him, the girls encounter many of the bumps of growing up -- the destruction of Jo's treasured writing, romps with wealthier pals, Amy's expulsion from school, and Meg's reluctant first romance. But their lives are turned upside-down when Beth contracts scarlet fever, and they receive news that their father has been seriously injured -- and these crises threaten to destroy the heart of their family.

The second half of the book opens with Meg's wedding -- if not to her dream guy, then to her love. But while time has mellowed and matured the Little Women, it hasn't lessened the capacity for conflict and unintentional comedy -- particularly with the now-attractive Amy, whose attempts to pursue art, culture and the appearance of wealthy sophistication usually go horribly wrong.

But the platonic friendship between Laurie and Jo is shattered when he admits his true feelings to her... and gets rejected. Distraught, he goes to Europe, as does Amy with crusty old Aunt March. And left in New England, Jo is faced with the question of what her life has in store, despite Beth's picturesquely poor health. Her new job as a governess leads her to put her treasured stories into print... leading her to love and her future.

There's a clearly autobiographical tone to "Little Women" -- and since the March girls really are like the girls next door, this doesn't exactly come as a shock. How much of it is real? A passage late in the book portrays a post-"blood and thunder" Alcott -- in the form of Jo -- "scribbling" down the book itself, and getting it published because it feels so real and true.

And it does. Alcott's writing is a warm, smooth string of interconnected stories, some of them quiet and some peppered with silly jokes, moments of tragedy, poetry, and unintentional humiliation ("Salt instead of sugar. And the cream is sour"). Sometimes, especially in the beginning, Alcott is a bit too preachy and hamhanded. But her touch becomes defter as she writes on.

The best part of this book is the March girls themselves -- they have flaws and strengths, ambitions and dreams that never quite turn out as they expect. And their misadventures -- like Amy's embarrassing problem with her huge lobster, or Meg's makeover at a rich friend's house -- have the feeling of authenticity.

Lovable Jo is the quintessential tomboy -- rough, gawky, fun-loving, impulsive, with a love of literature and a mouth that is slightly too big. Meg's love of luxury adds a flaw to the "perfect little homemaker" image, and while Amy is an annoying little brat throughout much of the first half of the book, by her teens she's almost as likable as Jo.

It must be admitted that Beth is not quite as endearing -- she's canonized with the 19th-century approach to the deceased, and so is continuously sweet, loving and understanding. But Laurie makes up for this: a wealthy, artistic, passionate young man who goes through all the growing pains, as he tries to be worthy of the girl he adores. Don't worry, things turn out all right for him.

"Little Women" is one of those rare classic novels that is still relevant, funny, fresh and heartbreaking today. The March family will come alive, and never quite leave.
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dictionary definition of insipid: narrator of Little Women
I listened to an hour and a half of the audio version and it was painful. The four girls are so spoiled and unworthy of being written about. They complain about being poor, yet they live in a warm, snug house, with food to eat every day, a house keeper and changes of clothes. Even when they meet a truly poor family they still feel hard done by.

I can't possibly listen to another minute of this story

to clarify, i think the reader of this audio book did a good job for the part I listened to. She was enthusiastic and had good characterizations of the various characters.
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on September 11, 2014
Every girl should read this magnificent book at some point in their life. This book has changed me and helped me in the ways of growing up, learning how to love, how to appreciate.

Reading this novel brought me along the journeys of these four girls and it was such a gift to watch them as they became girls to women!

I felt so many things reading this book; sadness, joy, nostalgia, resentment, envy, gratitude! And I learned to care so much about these four young women and how their lives unfurled. I believe every girl can see herself in one, if not all March girls, and can so easily learn of and learn to love themselves as they get to know and grow to love Jo, Beth, Meg and Amy.

I am so glad to have read and appreciated this novel, And it is my greatest hope that girls all across the world will come to know it as I have.

Concerning the sequels, I will not be reading them, but all to his own! Personally, I was content with this ending, an wish to keep it as is. It wrapped up perfectly these lives the March girls have built for themselves and the nostalgia and happiness and sadness that was wrapped up into those ending words brought me a sense of closure that a book like 'Little Women' deserves.

Also, I suggest buying the book as well. I bought the paperback edition and it is beautiful!!
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on August 24, 2010
"Little Women" by Louisa May Alcott has been undervalued for most of its history. This book is a true American Classic. Published originally in October of 1868, it is a story set during the Civil War, but Alcott does not deal with the specifics of the war. Instead, it serves as the pretext for the absence of Robin March, the father of the four "Little Women", for a large portion of the first book. The novel today actually consists of two books, the original "Little Women" from 1868, and the sequel "Good Wives" which was published the following year in April of 1869. The two volumes started being treated as one in 1880.

The first book deals with the growing maturity of the four sisters, and in particularly of Jo and Meg as they have to learn to help their mother out more and do with less during the war, and while their father is away. Meg is the eldest at 16 when the story begins, and Jo (who clearly represents the author) is 15. There is then a gap of a couple years with Beth being just 13 and Amy 12. Their lives transition from that of young girls to young women, and each sister has her own unique traits. Margaret "Meg" with her beauty is following the traditional path in entering society and heading towards marriage. Josephine "Jo" is attracted by intellectual pursuits, in particular reading and writing. Elizabeth "Beth" is very shy and demure. She is also a peacemaker between the sisters, and enjoys helping others. Sadly, she also falls sick and never fully recovers from scarlet fever. Amy is the baby, and likes to tag along with others. She is also used to getting her own way.

The first book is masterful in its simplicity. The story feels real, undoubtedly largely due to the author drawing on her own experiences, but Alcott also cleverly avoids adding too much into it and thereby making it unrealistic. She chooses a good steady pace, and the characters are well defined and consistently portrayed. Her dialogue is not perfect, but that adds to the overall realism of the telling of the story. It is a wonderful story for young women to read, and is also very readable for older readers.

The second book is fairly good too, though it fails to be as believable as the first book as Alcott allowed herself to be convinced to have Jo marry. Alcott never married, and the union she chooses for Jo is a bit unusual and thus it doesn't feel right. Outside of that, though, the second book is a worthy successor to the first. Meg's choice of husband fits perfectly with the character and ideals that she develops in the first book. Most of Jo's actions in the second book also fit well with her character up, including her avoiding marriage with Laurie, her friend and neighbor who plays an important role throughout both books. Only at the point where Jo marries does it not fit. The tragedy of Meg's passing is beautifully described, and the reader is touched by the goodness of her character. Lastly, the full development of Amy fits well, including her choice of spouse.

The Penguin Classics edition of "Little Women" includes a very informative introduction by Elaine Showalter and extensive notes by Siobhan Kilfeather and Vinca Showalter. One of the important notes is that this edition is based on the original publications, and not those which were amended by Alcott for later editions, though obvious printer errors were corrected. There is discussion of some of the changes which Alcott made in the notes to the text. This is a wonderful book, but I will take part of a star away and round down for Jo's forced marriage.
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on August 14, 2003
How can you not love this tale of 4 sisters struggling to have a normal life despite a father away fighting in the Civil War and diminished means because of his absence? Jo is a feminist of whom Susan B. Anthony would be proud. Poor Beth is so good and easy to love that her illness is heart-breaking. Meg is strong and practical. And Amy, well, you have to love her despite her vanity and selfishness. Of course, Marmee is the tie that binds this family together. So many wonderful movie adaptations of this beloved novel have been produced, including the very faithful one starring Winona Ryder, but, really, one should read this novel to totally immerse themselves in the lives of the March girls. If you love the movie, do yourself the favor of reading this book. Read it to your young daughter, or buy your 4th, 5th, or 6th grader her very own copy to treasure.
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on September 15, 2014
Little Women is a touching, amusing, and downright "jolly" classic. I'm thirteen, and can really relate to the girls (other than beth, bless her soul). Based on other reviews, I would reccomend you download the kindle version, seeing as it would be not only in great condition, but free as well.
Early on, the outcome may not make sense, but it realy does work out in the end.
That's all I have to say, but I hope you read and enjoy it as well as I did.
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on February 7, 2015
I like the cover design of this edition, but unfortunately the text is a bit hard to read. It's like the font is slightly blurry, which is funny because the other books I purchased in the Penguin Clothbound Classics series were printed with a clearer font.
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on December 5, 2014
I was going to give this to my niece for Christmas and decided to keep it for myself since it wasn't "her" thing. Teenagers! I adore this story and it will be a lovely addition to my personal library.
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