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Book review

“Little Women”, a novel by Louisa M. Alcott has been written in 1868 and the second part appeared in 1869. Author’s personal experience of growing up in a big family with three sisters underlines the whole book: Meg serves as a prototype of her older sister, Anna; Joe stands for the writer herself; and the images of Beth and Amy were based on her younger sisters: Elizabeth and May, correspondingly. Although four sisters lived in the 19th century, some situations and moments of their youth along with advices described are quite relevant even these days.

Events take place in North America at the times of Civil War. Author reflects usual life of provincial family, which suddenly lost its money. Mr. March, father and a head of a family left for the war. Mother, Marmi, as girls called her takes care of a house and four cheerful and never discouraged daughters: sensible and slightly conceited Meg, hot-tempered and brave Joe, kind and shy Beth, talented but a little selfish Amy. The family is extremely caring, considerate towards each other, and hardworking. Girls seek to make themselves and the world better, meeting all the challenges with a smile, certain of kindness and friendship always being able to help them, as that is what Mrs. March teaches them: value friendship and assist neighbors. The novel touches upon deep and topical issue: education of younger generation. Mrs. March confident and focused easily managed to prove her daughters that laziness and idleness can make one bored very quickly; when a person loafs, he/she can never see the true value of the rest and holidays. Girls’ mother has great wisdom (worldly and personal): she does not give lectures, which often have the opposite effect on teenagers, but teaches them how to live a decent life. She doesn’t try to bend the girls under the responsibilities, but leads them through hard times, hugging round the shoulders and whispering that everything will be okay. Alcott created a glorious image of mother!

The novel is incredibly touching, sweet, sometimes sad; author masterfully writes the atmosphere of home warmth and fireside comfort. This is a story of friendship and love; of human vices and little women fighting with them every single day; of the childhood and adolescence, of children’s ability to make adult decisions as well as of the reluctance to grow up (how without it, indeed?). The book, on the one hand, is very easy for comprehension, and on the other hand, full with educative and smart ideas. Being perfect for teenagers it still can be interesting for adults to look at the girls growing-up and making mistakes already left behind and to gain the very mother’s wisdom. By the way, strong moralizing and edification is peculiar to the 19th century novels, to a Protestantism age. Protestantism is quite severe and demanding religion. It strictly calls to task even children, aiming at not only their words and behavior, but thoughts to be absolutely right. Girls didn’t always do the right things, often stumbled, but still stubbornly went ahead to prove to themselves and Marmi, they are real support for parents and deserve their unconditional love. And they’ve proved.

The book has been deservedly admitted as one of the best in English literature. One cannot overlook a lucid literary style: it’s so vigorous, sincere, and realistic. Whether this is a description of the house, the landscape or the book hero, everything appears natural. It’s exactly the kind of books children should be raised with as an example of kindness, empathy, and understanding. It may be naive and utopian (at the end of a day it has been written for children) but full with moralization. The very innocence wins readers’ hearts and makes them believe that universal values still mean something in this world. However, the novel will scarcely be interesting for male readers. Creating a book for girls Louisa Alcott displays her feminism views and teaches us that sentimentality is not always a vice; sometimes it can bring compassion.

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