Little Women

Little Women

by Louisa May Alcott

Available on Compatible NOOK Devices and the free NOOK Apps.
WANT A NOOK?  Explore Now

Overview

Meg is the eldest and on the brink of love. Then there's tomboy Jo who longs to be a writer. Sweet-natured Beth always puts others first, and finally there's Amy, the youngest and most precocious. Together they are the March sisters. Even though money is short, times are tough and their father is away at war, their infectious sense of fun sweeps everyone up in their adventures — including Laurie, the boy next door. And through sisterly squabbles, their happy times and sad ones too, the sisters discover that growing up is sometimes very hard to do. Based on Louisa May Alcott's childhood, this lively portrait of nineteenth-century family life possesses a lasting vitality that has endeared it to generations of readers. A wonderful story... As a child, I strongly identified with Jo because she is a writer. —Jacqueline Wilson The American female myth. —Madelon Bedell It is an essential American novel, perhaps the essential American novel for girls… Girls come to it on their own. —Jane Smiley In "Little Women", Alcott anticipated realism by twenty or thirty years. —G. K. Chesterton

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553904093
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/28/2007
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 560
Sales rank: 1,064,605
File size: 762 KB
Age Range: 10 - 14 Years

About the Author

Louisa May Alcott, born in 1832, was the second child of Bronson Alcott of Concord, Massachusetts, a self-taught philosopher, school reformer, and utopian who was much too immersed in the world of ideas to ever succeed in supporting his family. That task fell to his wife and later to his enterprising daughter Louisa May. While her father lectured, wrote, and conversed with such famous friends as Emerson, Hawthorne, and Thoreau, Louisa taught school, worked as a seamstress and nurse, took in laundry, and even hired herself out as a domestic servant at age nineteen. The small sums she earned often kept the family from complete destitution, but it was through her writing that she finally brought them financial independence. “I will make a battering-ram of my head,” she wrote in her journal, “and make a way through this rough-and-tumble world.”

An enthusiastic participant in amateur theatricals since age ten, she wrote her first melodrama at age fifteen and began publishing poems and sketches at twenty-one. Her brief service as a Civil War nurse resulted in Hospital Sketches (1863), but she earned more from the lurid thrillers she began writing in 1861 under the pseudonym of A.M. Barnard. These tales, with titles like “Pauline’s Passion and Punishment,” featured strong-willed and flamboyant heroines but were not identified as Alcott’s work until the 1940s.

Fame and success came unexpectedly in 1868. When a publisher suggested she write a “girl’s book,” she drew on her memories of her childhood and wrote Little Women, depicting herself as Jo March, while her sisters Anna, Abby May, and Elizabeth became Meg, Amy, and Beth. She re-created the high spirits of the Alcott girls and took many incidents from life but made the March family financially comfortable as the Alcotts never had been. Little Women, to its author’s surprise, struck a cord an America’s largely female reading public and became a huge success. Louisa was prevailed upon to continue the story, which she did in Little Men (1871) and Jo’s Boys (1886.) In 1873 she published Work: A Story of Experience, an autobiography in fictional disguise with an all too appropriate title.

Now a famous writer, she continued to turn out novels and stories and to work for the women’s suffrage and temperance movements, as her father had worked for the abolitionists. Bronson Alcott and Louisa May Alcott both died in Boston in the same month, March of 1888.

Read an Excerpt

Playing Pilgrims


"Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents,"grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.

"It's so dreadful to be poor!"sighed Meg, looking down at her old dress.

"I don't think it's fair for some girls to have lots of pretty things, and other girls nothing at all," added little Amy, with an injured sniff.

"We've got father and mother, and each other, anyhow,"said Beth, contentedly, from her corner.

The four young faces on which the firelight shone brightened at the cheerful words, but darkened again as Jo said sadly?

"We haven't got father, and shall not have him for a long time." She didn't say "perhaps never,"but each silently added it, thinking of father far away, where the fighting was.

Nobody spoke for a minute; then Meg said in an altered tone, "You know the reason mother proposed not having any presents this Christmas, was because it's going to be a hard winter for every one; and she thinks we ought not to spend money for pleasure, when our men are suffering so in the army. We can't do much, but we can make our little sacrifices, and ought to do it gladly. But I am afraid I don't;"and Megshook her head, as she thought regretfully of all the pretty things she wanted.

"But I don't think the little we should spend would do any good. We've each got a dollar, and the army wouldn't be much helped by our giving that. I agree not to expect anything from mother or you, but I do want to buy Undine and Sintram for myself; I've wanted it so long,'said Jo, who was a bookworm.

"I planned to spend mine in new music,"said Beth, with a little sigh, which no one heard but the hearth-brush and kettle-holder.

"I shall get a nice box of Faber's drawing pencils; I really need them," said Amy, decidedly.

"Mother didn't say anything about our money, and she won't wish us to give up everything. Let's each buy what we want, and have a little fun; I'm sure we grub hard enough to earn it,"cried Jo, examining the heels of her
boots in a gentlemanly manner.

"I know I do, teaching those dreadful children nearly all day, when I'm longing to enjoy myself at home," began Meg, in the complaining tone again.

"You don't have half such a hard time as I do," said Jo. "How would you like to be shut up for hours with a nervous, fussy old lady, who keeps you trotting, is never satisfied, and worries you till you''e ready to fly out of the window or box her ears?"

"It's naughty to fret, but I do think washing dishes and keeping things tidy is the worst work in the world. It makes me cross; and my hands get so stiff, I can't practise good a bit." And Beth looked at her rough hands with a sigh that any one could hear that time.

"I don't believe any of you suffer as I do," cried Amy; "for you don't have to go to school with impertinent girls, who plague you if you don't know your lessons, and laugh at your dresses, and label your father if he isn't rich, and insult you when your nose isn't nice."

"If you mean libel I'd say so, and not talk about labels, as if pa was a pickle-bottle," advised Jo, laughing.

Table of Contents

Introductionvii
Suggestions for Further Readingxxix
A Note on the Textxxxi
Little Women
Prefacexxxv
Part I1
Part II236
Notes493

Reading Group Guide

1. In the first two chapters, the girls use John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress as a model for their own journey to becoming "little women." What was Alcott trying to say by using such a strongly philosophical piece of literature as the girls' model?

2. What purpose does Beth's death serve? Was Alcott simply making a sentimental novel even more so, or was this a play on morality and philosophy? Do you think Beth was intended to be a Christ figure?

3. Consider the fact that Beth will never reach sexual maturity or marry. What do you think this says about the institution of marriage and, more important, about womanhood?

4. Consider Jo's writing: While we are treated to citations from "The Pickwick Portfolio" and the family's letters to one another, we are never presented with an excerpt from Jo's many literary works, though the text tells us they are quite successful. Why is this?

5. Do you find it surprising that once Laurie is rejected by Jo, he falls in love with Amy? Do you feel his characterization is complete and he is acting within the "norm" of the personality Alcott has created for him, or does Alcott simply dispose of him once our heroine rejects him?

6. Some critics argue that the characters are masochistic. Meg is the perfect little wife, Amy is the social gold digger, and Beth is the eternally loving and patient woman. Do you believe these characterizations are masochistic? If so, do you think Alcott could have characterized them any other way while maintaining the realism of the society she lived in? And if this is true, what of Jo's character?

7. The last two chapters find Jo setting aside her budding literary career to run a school with her husband. Why do you think Alcott made her strongest feminine figure sacrifice her own life plans for her husband's?

8. Alcott was a student of transcendentalism. How and where does this philosophy affect Alcott's writing, plot, and characterization?

9. Do you believe this is a feminine or a feminist piece of work?

Interviews

"I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship."
— Louisa May Alcott (quote from Little Women

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Little Women (Collins Classics) 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 45832 reviews.
Jgirl09 More than 1 year ago
The March family is forced to be with out their father during the war. The four sisters: Meg, the beautiful eldest, Jo, the tomboy author, Beth, the tender-hearted, and Amy, the romantic artist, face many timeless struggles that girls of all ages face. Their story only brings them closer and captures you in the process. In my opinion, the book Little Women is a classic book for many ages. I thought the book was interesting and I personally have read the book at least twice. The book has a timeless theme. It also has characters that relates to most. In conclusion, I would suggest you read it at least once. The March family reminds you that even in rough times you can get through it. Louisa May Alcott has created in my opinion a timeless book. This book will probably remain popular for many years. The book was interesting and great for girls especially, but don't let that stop you boys from reading it, too. I liked it so much I watched the movie.
readingissexy23 More than 1 year ago
I absolutley loved this book. It gave you everything you could ask for in a novel. Drama, thrill, compasion, love. The ups and downs in this book really kept me interested. I laughed and I cried. I know that sounds cheesy; but its true. This is definitely one of my favorite books and one to keep on my shelf in my collection!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was quite young when i first read this book, and till today no other book fascinates me like this one. When ever i'm frustrated or feeling low, this book helps me to regain my lost spirit..because it is the story of a family which faces the challenges of life, without letting go of faith in God, and their love for each other to come out triumphant.
Bookjunkie40 More than 1 year ago
Years ago, my aunt gave me this book as a gift. Of course then I didn't have my love for reading as I do now. Finally, I read it and loved it! I love everything about it, the story line, lessons, the characters, the way it was written. Granted I read this book years ago, I still remember the story line vividly. There is no question in my mind why this book is a classic. I will even go so far as to say the movie does it justice. this book is great for school, book clubs, rainy days, well actually any time. The story will suck you in and you wouldn't be able to put it down!
legallynik More than 1 year ago
This is one of those books that I finish and want to go back to page one and start reading all over again. Each of the March sisters is special and interesting in her own way, and even now my friends and I go back and forth about who is who among the sisters...Most of us want to be Jo, the headstrong, independent sister, who is the fictional version of the writer herself, Louisa May Alcott. Alcott wrote a couple sequels, and a serial about the Marches, but Little Women is the one that has endeared itself to so many...Although a work of fiction, Little Women has many biographical qualities...Louisa herself had three sisters: her elder sister, Anna is Meg in the book, Elizabeth is Elizabeth (Although I believe she was called Betty, not Beth), Abby May (usually just called May) is Amy...sadly, there was no real Laurie...But many of the situations that the sisters find them in were situations similar to those they really experienced--including the loss of Beth who never fully recovered from Scarlett Fever...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Honestly the orginal was the best. Don't buy this one it's not the real Little Women
nina929 More than 1 year ago
What can I say, I love it, you can't ask for anything more than to have the book and the movie at the same time, is the perfect present for your little girl that likes to read. One of the classic novels of all times. Buy it!!! You wont regret it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have loved this book for years! I actually own it in print, but it was pre-loaded on my nook when I bought it, so that's just a plus! Wonderful, wonderful book!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Please don't get it on the nook. It takes a really long time to load and turn pages.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read this book four times and cried and laughed and gasped through the well done classic story i read every year since 3rd grade and adored it all times!!!!!!!!!!!!
GordonF More than 1 year ago
Little Women often includes the second book, Good Wives, as Part II of the same story. It's not, it's two different books in one. both are charming, sweet, sad, and quiet lessons in kindness. A true classic of literature. The characters are fit for any time period. Though the details may be in the 19th century, the attitudes are of women who are not simply subjective to society. Each character has their own traits, faults, and virtues.
RACHELLE Bertholf More than 1 year ago
This is a great read if 1,u like classic stories 2,fallowing the characters as they get older 3,the 1800s I highly recomend this book to women of all ages and i garenty that u will get something out of it (this book helped me have more pacience and control with my sister who has adhd)
teacherjess More than 1 year ago
Little Women is one of those books that can be read multiple times. Women and girls can relate to at least one of the personalities of these sisters or at least to the fighting between the sisters! A great novel that will be recommended to my girls when they are old enough.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An inspiring, epic novel that reminds us of the most valuable things in life: not money or station, but humiliy and love. A well-written and easy-to-read, classic that all young women should read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is very touching and how they showed kindness to each other. And yes it is a very long book but I think it is worth reading it. In my opinion this is a must read book during middle school to high school. But I as an adult think you shiuld read this bokk again when you are an adult because you might find some thing you never noticed when you are reading it. This book is a real historical fiction book af it shows love for each other and I am not ashamed to tell you tis but I cried at some parts of this story because it was soooooooo touching. Parents/gardian you have to tell your kids to read this book because it changed my life when I was 12 years old. And this was the first time I read this book and I am really happy that I read this book. I hope you are goin to read this book and HAPPY READING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the best book ever! The auorther of this book should get an award for writing such a amazinly great book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loisa may alcott is the best auther of all
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A beautiful piece of literiture
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Being a teenager, i enjiyed this book. I love reading the classics and to me it is absolutly beautifully written. I laughed and cried and will definatly not leave book sitting on the shelf for too long.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a very good book and I think anyone who likes reading would enjoy it. Although it is taking me a while to read. It keeps on getting stuck when I try to read it and I can't find the page I'm onand that is really annoying but other then that i think this is a very good book.
ShadrachAnki More than 1 year ago
Little Women is a classic of American literature, and worth reading, even 150 years after its publication. However, readers do need to accept the fact that the pacing is a bit uneven and there are frequent narrative asides pointing out exactly "what we should learn from this anecdote," usually occurring just as the pace starts to pick up. Still, it's a good look at another time and place. The Barnes & Noble Classics ebook edition of Little Women is, for the most part, quite good. It comes with quite a bit of supplementary material in the form of a biography of the author; historical background of both when the book was written and the time period in which it was set; and approximately twenty pages of endnotes and footnotes, all hyper-linked within the book itself. I would have preferred to see the information about the author and her history placed at the end of the text rather than the beginning. Ditto with the introduction, which, like most such introductions, assumes the reader is already familiar with the text. The proofreading of the ebook text is...spotty. As far as I can tell it was typeset by scanning an existing print copy of the book, using OCR technology to render the text. On the whole, this works quite well, but there are a number of places where words are split oddly (e.g. "beg inning" instead of "beginning"), or specific letters were not translated correctly, leading to spelling errors (e.g. "tor" instead of "for").
sandra le pine More than 1 year ago
it was very heartwarming story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She padded in. She was a normal kit, no wings or powers. She had a large claw scar on her left side of her face. "May I join this clan?"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beth does not die and Amy and Laurie does not get married!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Like