Monday, June 11, 2012

The Little Women Letters

One of my favorite things about living in Boston is my proximity to Concord's Orchard House, where  I have spent many happy hours learning more about the Alcotts.  Indeed, all the Church Ladies (and some of our Pious Men!) are fans of Little Women.  So when I saw Gabrielle Donnelly's The Little Women Letters at the library, I quickly snatched it up... and devoured it in the next twenty four hours.

The Little Women Letters operates on a single premise- the Marches were a real family, and Little Women is unknown.  Fast forward several generations to modern day London, where Jo's great-great-great granddaughters are growing up, learning important lessons about life, love, and family in the process.

The Little Women Letters succeed because the March girls are unchanged.  Certainly, some anecdotes are developed, but the original characters remain wholly Alcott's- not subverted to the reader's desires like fan faiction.  Donnelly is incredibly successful at bringing Alcott's lessons about the importance of family, moral character, domestic responsibilities, ambition, and public service to a new generation.

PS.  Be sure to check out the author's account of first encountering Little Women- something that I could relate to well from growing up in a house of brothers!

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1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thank you so very much for this, Lucy! And so good to hear from other Catholic lovers of Little Women - I know that for Louisa May Alcott, the Catholic-Protestant divide was a big one, but when I devoured Little Women as a girl, I only saw that these March girls wanted to be good people, which was something that I had been taught to be and that it seemed right to me to want to be, and still does, in fact. Will you be anywhere near Concord in the middle of July? Because Orchard House is featuring its Summer Conversations Series from 15 - 19 and on Monday 16 I'm giving a talk about the Alcott/Marches and the meaning of family. I'll be in the area for a few days, so if you're around please send me an e-mail on my author web site,, and maybe we can find a way to hook up! best, Gabrielle.