I have never read Little Women before.
I’ve started it about a million times, and always ended when Amy goes to Paris. It wasn’t the length that stumped me, nor the mood. It wasn’t the story of the four sisters, although I have none, nor was it the setting of New England in the 1860’s. In fact, I don’t know what it was, exactly, that kept me from completing this beloved “children’s” novel.
Except that it is not a children’s novel.
Let me rephrase that. It is not a children’s novel written as today’s children’s literature is written. There are no fantastical beasts, no magical journeys, no evil evident as a monster, wraith or snake.
Instead, the evils are real: poverty, death, heartache. And Alcott’s story shows us how to face them all as we read of each girl’s courage when facing her own demons.
While it is not necessarily a comforting story, I am comforted in the end. For I see that the time honored virtues of patience, faithfulness and love are worthy weapons in which poverty, death and heartache are defeated.
I left a comment in one of Tom’s posts that Alcott seems to ask, “How then shall we live?” I find her answer to entail character and hope, steadfastness and faith. These traits, as she so cleverly shows us, help us overcome every adversity as they did for her little women.