Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters

HighBridge Audio. Aug. 2018. 9:30 hrs. ISBN 9781684413201. $39.99. digital download. LIT
OrangeReviewStarRioux (Wielding the Pen) begins with a compressed biography of Louisa May Alcott and her family. The Alcotts' poverty influenced how and what Louisa wrote. When a publisher approached her about writing a book about girls, Louisa hesitated, then composed Little Women based on her family. An instant best seller, it became a classic coming-of-age story. The realism of the story, in contrast to the stilted and moralizing tone of most children's books of the time, made it immediately popular with children and adults. It showed four sisters as realistic but flawed characters. Jo, the central character modeled after Alcott herself, is not a romantic heroine, and readers strongly identified with Jo then and now. Descendants of Jo's independent spirit can be found in characters such as Harry Potter's Hermione Granger and Hunger Games' Katniss Everdeen. The latter half of Rioux's book deals with Little Women as a publishing phenomenon and a cultural touchstone. Kimberly Farr offers a thoughtful, perfectly paced narration.
VERDICT An excellent addition to most library collections. ["Highly recommended for all readers interested in Alcott and her masterpiece's legacy": LJ 8/18 starred review of the Norton hc.]

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