Title: Little Women
Author: Louisa May Alcott
Length: 388 pages
As a girl growing up in Massachusetts, of course I have read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I first read this book in 5th grade and revisited the tale many times throughout my life. What is there not to love? A family of sisters, growing up, discovering themselves, and discovering life. As a ten year-old, I was fascinated to read about these girls beginning to like boys, struggling to fit in with girls of more affluent backgrounds, and how they enjoyed life, being each others’ best friends.
I don’t have a sister, but I’ve always had at least one close girl friend that I’ve always considered a sister of sorts. And while the “sister” has changed depending on my age, school, or location, there has always been a part of me that thinks back to the March sisters putting on plays in their attic or singing songs together around the piano. And while my friends and I haven’t done anything quite like that since I was about ten years-old, it’s the spirit, the love, and the comfort with each other that I treasure and can still liken to the sisters in the novel.
In addition to this being a great novel, it was also one of my favorite films growing up. I wanted to be Jo (Winona Ryder) and had a huge crush on Laurie (Christian Bale). I watched this movie over and over again, constantly yearning to go back in time and to live in this time period (only a few years after falling in love with Little Women, both the novel and film, I fell in love with Sense and Sensibility). For me, this film is a childhood classic and one that I periodically revisit. And each time that I do, I automatically experience the same excitement that I felt when I first saw it.
Additionally, growing up in Massachusetts, I am extremely lucky to live so close to Concord and Harvard, Massachusetts – two towns that are important for any Louisa May Alcott fan to visit. In Concord, you can visit Orchard House – the house that the Alcott sisters grew up in. I have been here about two to three times with plans to go back within the next month or so (weather permitting). When you visit Orchard House, you get a tour – a very informative tour. The guide walks you through the entire house, sharing tidbits about the personal lives of the family that lived there as well as pointing out parallels to scenes from the novels.
In Harvard, you can visit the Fruitlands Museum, which is a beautiful stretch of land housing multiple points of interest – an Art Museum, a museum on Native American culture, a museum on Shaker culture, and another Alcott homestead , which is where the family lived during a brief period of time when Bronson Alcott brought the family to live in an experimental Utopian society. It is actually at this house where the girls played in the attic and actually visiting here in person was like taking a walk into my childhood imagination. It was wonderful. While at the Fruitlands Museum, you will not only learn a lot, but you will be able to enjoy some really stunning views that are a good reminder of why Massachusetts is such a wonderful state.
If I read Little Women as a child, why write about it now? Well, a friend of mine (who didn’t grow up in Massachusetts) just read this book for the first time and enjoyed it very much. It’s always exciting for me when someone reads, and falls in love with, a book that I’ve also read and loved, no matter how far in my past it was that I first read it. Or, perhaps, I’m just a big ol’ goober. Entirely possible.
And, as an aside, I am a huge fan of homesteads! I will visit any homestead out there, but it is definitely much more exciting when there is a literary tie-in, of course.