Little Women: The Book and the Movie

Louisa May Alcott

“Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott is one of those classic books that I read and reread.  It is a wonderful story to get lost in as you enjoy the relationship between the sisters as they grow.  The book was first published in 1868 but it wears well over the years.  There is a little too much moralizing, especially as the book goes on, but that is easy enough to skim.

In the book of “Little Women,” the sisters start out with Meg 16 years old, Jo 15, Amy 12, and Beth 10.  The original book had two parts.  The first part centers on a couple of years and the second part skips some years and takes the sisters into adulthood and marriage.  Each sister is different and fully developed over the years covered in the book.

The most recent “Little Women” movie is the seventh film adaptation of the book.  This new movie is directed by Greta Gerwig and features actresses quite a bit older than the characters at the beginning of the book.  For the most part, the movie follows the book very closely, leaving out the moralizing parts.  But the movie also moves between the two parts of the book and sometimes that is a little confusing with the same actresses playing the girls as young and older.  For instance, when Jo is nursing Beth, the only way I could tell if we were in the past or present was by whether Jo’s hair was short or long.

The cast for the movie “Little Women” is international.  None of the actresses playing the sisters are from the United States.  Emma Watson (Meg) and Florence Pugh (Amy) are British, Saoirse Ronan (Jo) is Irish, and Eliza Scanlen (Beth) is Australian.  Even Louis Garrel (Laurie, the best friend boy-next-door) is French.  But they all nailed the American accents!

The book “Little Women” is semi-autobiographical.  But if you read about Louisa May Alcott’s life, you will see that her life was more difficult than the character in the book.  Also, the movie and the book have the happy ending of Jo falling in love and marrying Professor Bhaer.  Louisa May Alcott never married.  In the book the March family lives a settled life in a house in Concord, Massachusetts.  In real life the Alcotts, because of Mr. Alcott’s irresponsibility with money, moved annually.  If you are interested in Louisa May Alcott’s life, I recommend the biography by Susan Cheever.

The book “Little Women” is a classic.  This movie version of the book is the best adaptation of all.  You laugh, you cry, you care about the women in “Little Women.”