Classics Club members are joining in on the fun of the monthly meme questions on the brand new Classics Club website! August’s inquiry is,
“What is your favorite classic book? Why?”
Despite my bookworm status, I had no trouble choosing a title. The first book that came to mind was Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women.
SPOILER ALERT: If you have not yet read this book and plan to in the future, do NOT read further!! You have been warned ;)
When I was a little girl, my mother read me Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books, which, along with the TV series, I still love. I still revisit Lovelace’s Betsy-Tacy books every once in a while, am captivated by Austen’s Lizzy & Darcy, and adore Montgomery’s Avonlea, but Little Women is special.
I first read the book when I was in the 8th grade, and like so many other girls have done since the book’s publication in 1868, I wished I was Jo March. I’m not much of a tomboy, but I’ve always resonated with her the most, even though, like Meg, I’m the oldest, like Amy, I have my little vanities (although I try not to flaunt them quite as shamelessly as she did!) and like Beth, my castles in the air have always been simple and unassuming. Jo has spunk and an unfiltered love of the simple things of life that makes her completely lovable
But what is most alluring about Jo is the fact that she was an aspiring writer. I started writing my first (and only) novel when I was in 8th grade so I could relate to Jo’s creative dreams. And I so wanted a little garrett space of my own to write in! Still working on that :).
“I’d have a stable full of Arabian steeds, rooms piled with books, and I’d write out of a magic inkstand, so that my works should be as famous as Laurie’s music. I think I shall write books, and get rich and famous; that would suit me, so that is my favorite dream.” – Jo, Chapter 13 Castles in the Air
And who doesn’t love Marmee? She always had the best advice!!
“I want my daughters to be beautiful, accomplished, and good; to be admired, loved, and respected; to have a happy youth, to be well and wisely married, and to lead useful, pleasant lives, with as little care and sorrow to try them as God sees fit to send. To be loved and chosen by a good man is the best and sweetest thing which can happen to a woman, and I sincerely hope my girls may know this beautiful experience. It is natural to think of it, Meg, right to hope and wait for it, and wise to prepare for it, so that when the happy time comes, you may feel ready for the duties and worthy of the joy. My dear girls, I am ambitious for you, but not to have you make a dash in the world – marry rich men merely because they are rich, or have splendid houses, which are not homes because love is wanting. Money is a needful and precious thing,–and, when well used, a noble thing,–but I never want you to think it is the first or only prize to strive for. I’d rather see you poor men’s wives, if you were happy, beloved, contented, than queens on thrones, without self-respect and peace.”
“Poor girls don’t stand any chance, Belle says, unless they put themselves forward,” sighed Meg.
“Then we’ll be old maids,” said Jo stoutly.
“Right, Jo. Better be happy old maids than unhappy wives, or unmaidenly girls, running about to find husbands,” said Mrs. March decidedly. “Don’t be troubled, Meg, poverty seldom daunts a sincere lover. Some of the best and most honored women I know were poor girls, but so love-worthy that they were not allowed to be old maids. Leave these things to time; make this home happy, so that you may be fit for homes of your own, if they are offered you, and contented here if they are not. One thing remember, my girls: Mother is always ready to be your confidante, Father to be your friend; and both of us trust and hope that our daughters, whether married or single, will be the pride and comfort of our lives.” – Chapter 9 Meg Goes to Vanity Fair
There’s only one thing that I’ve struggled with all these years: Laurie. It’s taken me a long time to reconcile with the fact that Jo & Laurie didn’t end up together.
“I’ve loved you ever since I’ve known you, Jo, couldn’t help it, you’ve been so good to me. I’ve tried to show it, but you wouldn’t let me; now I’m going to make you hear, and give me an answer, for I can’t go on so any longer.” – Chapter 35 Heartache
Agh!! Poor Teddy! He had his heart set on her :(! This chapter is most properly titled! I’m still not completely taken with Professor Bhaer. Really, I think it’s just the age difference that bugs me! I can handle Jane Eyre’s Edward Fairfax Rochester, but this was tough! However, I do understand why Jo couldn’t marry her best friend. But I suppose that’s a whole other blog post on it’s own!!
I could go on and on about my favorite chapters (like Camp Laurence & Secrets) or dig up even more memorable quotes. I could even write about the different movie adaptations (the 1949 and 1994 versions are my favorites). But unfortunately, it’s already noon and my to-do list is calling my name. Suffice it to say that Jo March is my favorite literary heroine (with Anne Shirley coming in at an extremely close second ;)) and Little Women will forever be my favorite classic book! Goodness! All this talk about the book makes me want to read it again! Good thing it’s on my Classics Club list ^.^.
“Touched to the heart, Mrs. March could only stretch out her arms, as if to gather children and grandchildren to herself, and say, with face and voice full of motherly love, gratitude, and humility–‘Oh, my girls, however long you may live, I never can wish you a greater happiness than this!'” – Marmee, Chapter 47 Harvest Time