March Sisters: On Life, Death, and Little Women

Library of America. Aug. 2019. 192p. ISBN 9781598536287. pap. $21.95; ebk. ISBN 9781598536294. LIT
For the past 150 years, Louise May Alcott’s Little Women has fascinated readers of all ages. This collection features essays by four authors who analyze a character from the novel with whom she most identifies. Bolick (Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own) recalls stressing over her looks and clothing choices, qualities she associates with Meg, as the beauty-conscious March sister. Similarly, Jenny Zhang (Sour Hearts) reveals her connection to the fearless Jo in her struggles to be accepted as a writer. Zhang’s mother often flew into rages, unlike Marmee who always remains patient despite Jo’s outbursts. Both mothers do, however, agree that their daughters should never show anger. Carmen Maria Machado (Her Body and Other Parties), who was often ill during childhood, understands Beth and explores her resemblance to Alcott’s second-youngest sister Lizzie. Finally, Jane Smiley (“Last Hundred Years” trilogy), who first admired Jo the most, came to see Amy as the most modern and savvy of the sisters, pointing out that instead of doggedly pursuing her independence as Jo does, Amy is more political, working to make the best of her situation.
VERDICT Recommended for readers seeking a new look at this much-loved classic, the source of Alcott’s inspiration, and how contemporary authors have seen themselves evolve over time.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing