As I am so strapped for time, I decided to just forget my hard copy altogether and listen to the audiobook. It’s not what I wanted to do, but it’s better than falling completely behind! And just an FYI for any of you whose schedules may also make it difficult to find time to curl up with this book, you can get the audiobook from Audible.com. There are several different versions to choose from but I bought the Recorded Books production read by Barbra Caruso for about $6.00 (which is really good for an audiobook!). Caruso is one of my absolute favorite narrators and she doesn’t disappoint in this performance! I also couldn’t help purchasing the dramatized version that I must have borrowed from the library at least 20 times when I was a child! It’s abridged but it’s a delightful dramatization and I loved it :). Okay, enough of the commercial, let’s talk about the book! I’m currently on Chapter 14, Secrets.
Just as it often happens when rereading a childhood favorite, there’s so much more to appreciate as an adult. I remember experiencing this book for the first time and thinking that Jo and Laurie were 15 years old and so grown up! Then all of a sudden I was 20 years old and they seemed like such children. Oh how perspective changes with age! There are several things that I now cherish in this book that I didn’t so much when I was a young teenager.
First, I love Marmee. She’s so sweet and full of grace and wisdom and my single self can’t help taking notes for the future. Yet while we have this beautiful picture of motherly love, we find that she also struggles with personal weaknesses just as her daughters do but has learned to grapple with them with patience one day at a time. So far, I think my favorite Marmee moment is from Chapter 9, Meg Goes to Vanity Fair. I quoted these very words in my post for last year’s August Meme, but if you’ll allow me, they’re worth re-posting:
“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.”
Second, I truly love Jo and Laurie’s relationship. They’re so funny and quirky and comfortable together and they’re perfectly suited chums. Jo with her boyish awkwardness as she tries to figure out how to be a lady without losing herself in the process and Laurie’s lonely restlessness as he comes to terms with duty and responsibility. All the while they play and swap adventures and share a carefree adolescence. I think that, while Jo is completely oblivious to any romance in her life, by Chapter 14, Laurie’s affection for his best friend is starting to change into something more than just camaraderie. If he hasn’t loved her from the first, I think he’s beginning to. I’ll leave it there for now ;).
I hope you don’t mind that my comments will always lean more towards Jo because I always identified with her! I’d love to know which sister you most relate to!
So far, my favorite chapters are as they have always been –
The Laurence Boy
Jo Meets Apollyon
Meg Goes to Vanity Fair
What about you?
What are your favorite parts so far? Is this a reread for you or your first time? I look forward to reading your thoughts.
And as always, happy reading!