Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Monday, November 02, 2015

Falling in step with Little Women on the Road of Rereading

Well, I'm finishing up my seasonal journey of rereads(dubbed The Road of Rereading) by taking up a book that I've enjoyed many times since childhood and still find much to learn from it's pages today.

When Louisa May Alcott first wrote Little Women, she never thought it would be the book that she'd be best remembered for. To her, the story of the March sisters was simply a financial means to an end, as her recent "serious" novel did so poorly with the buying public.

Alcott's prose tended to be gothic tales, the kind that her literary alter ago Jo went for when she pursued writing as a full time career. Ironically enough, those suspense stories were saved from obscurity by a pair of ladies who adored Little Women and made it their business to bring her previous works back to life:

I first became acquainted with Little Women as a Christmas gift from an aunt of mine(fitting, since the opening line of the book is "Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents!") and while I still have that lovely illustrated copy, my Modern Library paperback will be put to good use here.

 Jo would approve, I'm sure. She is the most popular of the March sisters by a good majority of readers, for her tomboyish ways, love of literature and feisty temper set off by a generous and loving heart.

In a way, she's the Elizabeth Bennet of the story, only with a far different Mr. Darcy awaiting her.  They do have much in common as both Jo and Elizabeth are second sisters in a large group of siblings, both possess lively wit and fierce family loyalty and they prefer short versions of their full names(Jo hates being "Josy-phine!" while Elizabeth likes to be called Lizzy). A main difference is that Elizabeth is not a pursuer of the arts while Jo is determined to make her creative calling the focus of her future life:

Of course,this isn't just Jo's story. We also have elder sister Meg, with her longing for respectability and true love, sweet shy Beth and her musical talents and Amy, the quirky gal who needs to think before she speaks sometimes.

Little Women has a lasting pop culture imprint due to the dynamic of four female personalities playing off one another. Think about it, from those traveling pants sisters to the Golden Girls, it's not hard to figure out which one is fashionable Meg, independent Jo, innocent Beth and bluntly bold Amy. A good example are the quartet of young leading ladies from the eighties sitcom The Facts of Life(granted, it does help that one of them is named Jo), who may not be flesh and blood family yet do form a sisterhood of sorts there:

I will be following up my reading thoughts with a look at two adaptations of LW, the Pemberley Digital web series The March Family Letters(which ended too soon, if you ask me) and the 1994 big screen version starring Winona Ryder,Susan Sarandon and Christian Bale.

The '94 film was the fifth Hollywood undertaking of the story(along with a made for TV miniseries that aired in 1978) and while it may not be the strongest of the adaptations, it is the one that I saw in theaters, so that made it easier for me to choose to watch. After all, a repeat viewing does fit in with a rereading, does it not?

Anyway, this last leg on The Road of Rereading is off to a good start as renewing such an old friendship with the March girls and the many people that come into their lives is just as grand as making a new friend, particularly one that gets you right from the start. The road ahead may be tricky but finding a good companion to share that journey with tends to make each step easier to take:

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