Hello and happy end of January!
This month’s Classics Challenge book was Little Women and guess what! I FINISHED IT!!! And not scrambling to finish in time. I actually finished over the weekend with plenty of time to spare and to savor such a wonderful novel.
In case you’ve lived under a rock your entire life, Little Women tells the story of the March sisters: Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy.
We see them grow from children to adults, struggling and changing and improving every step of the way. It’s really a unique story that I felt was just as meaningful and insightful today as it was 100 years ago (or whenever it was written).
The book is divided into two parts and, from what I understand, each part was published separately. Maybe? I don’t know. The first part deals mostly with them being young girls, struggling with growing up and dealing with life. The Civil War is going on, money is tight, their father is away… but despite these BIG struggles, the March girls deal with daily struggles that I think we all struggle with: not having nicer things, comparing ourselves to others, vanity, pride, figuring out who we are. It’s so interesting to see them learn to deal with these and learn little life lessons along the way.
The second part deals with them turning into women, continuing to grow up and deal with more “adult” struggles: marriage, dating, finding one’s way, changing friendships, death, loss. I loved watching these girls who I grew to love turn into adults and found it so funny that these struggles were ones that I see so many of my friends (and myself if I’m honest) dealing with on a daily basis.
I took SO much away from this book that it’s hard to properly talk about it all on this post, so I thought I’d pick some “top” things that I took away from Little Women:
I am more like Jo than I thought For as long as I can remember, I have always liked Beth best and thought I was more like her than any of the other March sisters. If I had to pick a sister I was the least like, it would be Jo. I was always quiet and shy growing up, so naturally I thought I was like Beth who was both of these things. Jo was loud and abrasive, a tomboy and adventurous… I was none of those things. I think after reading Little Women, I realized that while yes, Jo is all these things and I am not, I share her need for more, to better herself and the very real inner struggles she has. I share her feelings of being so frustrated in her situation that she can hardly stand it. I share her want for a grander life full of freedoms and her desire to make her own way in life. It was so eye-opening to realize just how alike we are deep down. On the surface we may seem like total opposites, but deeper down we are the same. It was oddly liberating to realize just how alike we are.
“I can’t do it. I wasn’t meant for a life like this, and I know I shall break away and do something desperate if somebody doesn’t come and help me.”
“Jo wasn’t a heroine, she was only a struggling human girl like hundreds of others, and she just acted out her nature, being sad, cross, listless, or energetic, as the mood suggested.”
Marriage was just as hard in the 1800s as it is now I’ve never thought that “once upon a time marriage was easy.” And I don’t think that it ever will be easy. But I don’t think I have learned, nor ever will learn, the mentality of “pick your battles.” Maybe had I married younger by now I would have learned this lesson. Or maybe I would be divorced because I hadn’t. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about picking battles and guys… IT. IS. HARD! I also feel like I’ve fallen into the mentality of when your baby is born, they become your whole life. I’ve read a few things lately that urge new moms NOT to fall into this mentality because of the negative effect it can have on your marriage. Again… no husband or babies for me, but I still absorb these types of articles. Anyway… Meg, the eldest sister, gets married at the beginning of the second part of Little Women and we get to see her first few years of marriage, which includes both learning to pick battles and having babies. Guys, I sincerely hope that when/if I ever get married and if we have babies, my mom gives me good advice like Marmee gives Meg. I’m not gonna lie, I think I learned more from her gentle marriage advice than any marriage/babies advice article I’ve ever read. Sure, you might argue that her advice is antiquated, but sometimes I think antiquated advice can be the best advice.
“You have only made the mistake that most young wives make – forgotten your duty to your husband in your love for your children. … children should draw you nearer than ever, not separate you, as if they were all yours and John had nothing to do but support them.”
It’s okay if your first love isn’t your last love We get caught up in these great and epic first romances where they live happily ever after. I think we all want that and when we’re younger we think our first love is THE ONE. And when that person isn’t THE ONE… well… life is over. Or so it seems. I’ve known several people who are still upset over Laurie and Jo not being together and I remember when I was younger being upset as well. They were so perfect together! Except… they really weren’t. And my heart BROKE for Laurie when Jo rejected him and it destroyed him. I know how you feel, man. I would probably have run away too if I had the funds. But if following Laurie’s “after Jo” life taught me anything it’s that there is still someone out there to love and that love can be greater and righter than your first love.
“There are plenty to love you, so try to be satisfied with Father and Mother, sisters and brothers, friends and babies, till the best lover of all comes to give you your reward.” (not a Laurie quote, but still good advice!)
Overall, I adored this book. There were oh so many strong life lessons within its pages and I learned so much, not only about myself but about life. I highly advise it to anyone. This isn’t my first time reading it, but I feel like I got so many different things out of it this time around!
Next month’s book: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen