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17 November 2012

Things I Object To In Louisa May Alcott

Rereading Little Men and I have some thoughts about the March saga.

1) What in the name of ever loving hell does John Brooke die of in Little Men? It's like one day he's walking around all lalalalala and the next day he's dead. Quickly. In The Night. (My theory is murrdeerrrr. Think crossover book called: The Little Men... Of the Night!)

2) While we're on the subject of death row, Beth, it is largely believed, died of TB. Right? But there's no mention! First she goes to feed some sick family, blahblahblahBORING, and then she's never the same again. The characters who preach at you most die first. Novel Rule Of Thumb. (John Brooke was SUPER preachy during Good Wives.)

3) Amy marries Laurie after Jo turns him down. I know you're all with me.

4) Amy is just generally a brat, but I did enjoy/resent her grown up experiences far more than Jo's or Meg's. She got to be the lady and all ladida, and as a fierce Jo lover, I was all like WHAT WHY DOES SHE GET ALL THE GOOD STUFF? (Trip to Europe, I'm looking at you.)

5) Actually I enjoyed Meg a lot. I liked when she got all tarted up at that party at Sallie Moffat's (?), I liked her whole Brooke-romance, I liked her twin babies and her little house. Meg was cool. (This is not an objection, but I wish there was more Meg.)

6) Except in Jo's Boys, when she (SPOILER!) (can you put a spoiler on a 100 year old book? Maybe.) doesn't let Nat marry Daisy because of his background and I'm like bitch please, remember the fuss Aunt March kicked up when you wanted to marry dear departed John?

7) Also Bess Must Never Know Dan Loves Her Because She Is So Pure And White And He Has Lived Among The Indians.

8)  Did anyone really like Beth? I mean, I know I was meant to be sad when she popped it, but even then, at the tender age of 11, I was all "Eh."

9) What do we really think about Bhaer? He kinda grew on me by the end. No? I mean, still JoLaurie should've happened, no question, but Bhaer could've been a LOT worse.

10) Isn't it weird how everyone names their kids after each other and Meg and John named their kids AFTER THEMSELVES? Daisy was actually Meg III, Marmee being original Meg. Obviously the husbands have no say, because it's all Marches, all the time.


  1. Agree, with almost all of these. I was never that fond of Jo-Laurie, but the rest, absolutely.

    I actually enjoyed non-March family Alcotts better - Jack and Jill, Eight Cousins and Rose In Bloom, and my favorite - An Old-fashioned girl. They had similar issues, I think, but all tremendous fun to read =)

  2. Tottallee!
    And I thought I was the only one thinking it...

  3. Epic post. Might just have to go re-read Little Women again.

  4. Spoiler Alert on a 100 yr old saga possible you ask?YES! John Brooke dies?!
    Spot on with the 6 and 7 :)
    Also, how do you pronounce Bhaer. Why couldnt he better 5 years younger?

    1. The name Bhaer spelt phonetically in English would be closest pronounced as Bayer. But without the American rolling "R".

      Fritz needed to be older so as to have the maturity Jo needed for a happy marriage. He needed to be secure emotionally because of her temper and impulsiveness. Genuine self confidence coupled with wisdom and a slow to burn temper is rarely found in younger people because it takes time to develop into character and integrity.

  5. I'm having the blah-est day at work. Been typing away on my laptop pretending to shoot off emails and whatnot, while actually reading blogs and stalking people on FB. And now you've given me another reason to procrastinate. Next stop: onread dot com :-)

  6. I like alcott's books because they open a window into the world of that time, but I have to say that a lot of her writing is extremely preachy and annoying:especially in the little women saga. Everyone is so moral and irritating. Have you read an old fashioned girl? I think it is th best out of all her novels.

  7. 1. Actually how I found this. Hunting teh interwebs for the answer..

    2. She goes to help a sick family, catches scarlet fever and is never well again afterwards. This is due to scarlet, at the time, causing irreparable damage to the heart, and most sufferers in her way died young. No idea where the TB thing came from, unless it's one of the films.

    3. My jury's still a bit weird on that one.

    4. I'm completely a Jo fan, and Amy's my least favourite, but Jo totally did herself out of that one by acting the brat.. But if she had gone, Beth would have died without her, which would have damaged her a lot more than Amy.

    8. I am not ashamed to admit that Beth's scarlet fever scene made me tear up last time I read it..

    Bhaer <3

  8. Oh wow I didn't even know 'Little Men' was a book! I skipped straight from 'Good Wives' to 'Jo's Boys' and was really confused as to where John Brooke had gone...

    Yeah the Amy marrying Laurie thing was a bit weird, but y'knows we couldn't possibly have him marrying someone from outside the novel!

    I really liked Meg, though Alcott doesn't seem to think much of her parenting skills and the Nat/Daisy, Bess/Dan thing was a bit ridonc. My favourite was obvs Jo, and sadly Beth would probably have come last - only because she never really does anything whereby you could get to know more about her character. Rereading the death scene now is super emotional! As is the Bhaer proposal <3

  9. Hah, Jo was much more of a brat than Amy ever was (which makes her look even worse because one is a twelve year old and one is fifteen).

    Case in point:

    1) Amy wanted nice things and rarely got them. Like having to wear her cousin's tacky, too-small clothes. Where do you see "spoiled" there? The one time she tries by breaking school rules she gets quite punished for it. Jo never goes through such a thing. All she has to do is stop aggravating her such old aunt and read to her and even that much is too hard for poor jo since she never stops whining about the job she chose to take on.

    2) Jo had her awful temper but her family was constantly excusing it- "Oh, well, she tries!" Except no, she doesn't. She gets mad and throws a fit, calms down and acts "angelic" (apparently a generally kind attitude is so rarely seen in Jo that her sisters "joke" that they wish she'd lose her temper more because she's so nice afterwards). Then hits repeat. Amy's behavior is never excused, and she doesn't even lose her temper as much. For all Alcott insists Amy is the "pet", clearly someone else is.

    3) again, ALL Jo did was complain about how much she hated her relatively simple job at Aunt March's, then behaved rudely when Aunt Carroll was there and... for some reason assumed she was the one getting a trip to Europe instead of March's actual companion and preferred niece with better manners? So she's got a bit of entitlement too. She didn't deserve that trip; Amy earned it and even Jo knew as much and didn't want to rain on her parade, as a good sister shouldn't.

    4) then the infamous skating scene. Amy's burning the manuscript is the #1 cited reason this 12 year old receives such hatred on the level of Joffrey Baratheon. (I'm not gonna go into the fact that both girls had fought beforehand either.) Conveniently, though, Jo's attitude later is completely, utterly ignored and forgiven. She snubs Amy entirely for who knows how long and much worse, deliberately didn't tell her about the rotten ice so she might get hurt. My... role model? And when the kid inevitably falls in, her reaction is to stand there watching while Laurie gets crap done.

    Yeah, I preferAmy any day. Her flaws were realistic and well done and unlike Jo's, do not get excused or ignored consistently by either author or fandom. I actually don't dislike Jo, really, even if she annoys me at times (and astonished me with how evil the ice thing was) but I'm much more against how the fans glorify her as this angel, and love to pit her negatively against Amy, ironically forgetting how much Jo herself would hate that!

    1. I completely agree. Jo was a brat. The more I have read or watched the various versions the less I like Jo and the more I like Amy and Meg.

  10. As to John Brooke's death, you have to consider the times in which this was lived. The real life John Brooke was John Pratt and he died 10 years after his marriage to Anna Alcott (Meg). Louisa May and Abigail May (Jo and Amy) were both in Europe when he died. Louisa actually wrote Little Men while she was in Rome and it was published in England and America before she got home. She wrote it primarily to make sure Anna (Meg) and her 2 sons Fred and John (Demi and Daisy) would have an income guaranteed for them. A man like John Pratt (Brooke) probably worked himself so hard that any serious disease could carry him off. Don't forget there was scarlet fever, pneumonia, typhus, a host of other diseases for which the cure was more toxic than the disease itself! A bad case of food poisoning could have killed him. So if you want to know more about the what and the why, read some of the numerous books about LMA and the Alcotts and Pratts or research on the internet. There's plenty of material out there...go and find it.

  11. Regarding #10: It was extremely common in the nineteenth century for children to be named after their parents. The custom held on for boys longer than it did for girls, into the twentieth century, and even now, though not as common as it was, it's not unheard of for a boy to be named after his father. But in the nineteenth century, it was very common for both boys and girls. The oldest girl was usually given the mother's name, as well as the oldest boy the father's. Marmee's name was Margaret, and Meg was named after her. It was just normal. Nobody thought anything of it.

    Also, the general pool of names was smaller back then, and people did not value individuality in naming the way that they do now. So it was also very common for the same names to reappear in the family over and over.

    This is just reflecting reality in the nineteenth century.

  12. Yes! Except you left out the part where Meg in her saintly window's cap, in addition to thinking Nat isn't good enough for Daisy, dives into Hypocrite Lake because Josie wants to be an actress and, even though saintly Meg has acted and loves it, mercy me, we can't allow an actress to sully the saintly March/Brooke family names.


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