Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy by Anne Boyd Rioux
Little Women (and the three follow up novels) have long been some of my favourite reads - I've lost count of how many times I've read them! However I've also spent a lot of time in the past few years debating with friends (who's opinions I really value) about if these books are pro- or anti-feminist works.
Warning - there are some spoilers below...
I've always maintained that they are positive reads for young readers - Jo makes a living from her writing and later her teaching. Meg may marry young but the struggle of being a homemaker and mother is stressed, Amy becomes a successful artist before marrying.
My more critical friends however see the books less positively - that only marriage and family can make women happy, or if they are truly good then they die.
When I saw advance copies of Boyd Rioux's book up for review on Netgalley I got really excited. Then a little nervous that perhaps a serious lit-crit book would be beyond my broken brain. It nearly has. I can only read the work in small chunks, and I have had to reread chapters/pages multiple times. I've also been reading this book for nearly a fortnight and I'm still not at the end - something that those who know me will find incredible.
My feelings for this book are absolute love. It covers the way that Little Women mirrors Alcott's life, and a potted biography of all four March/Alcott women. It then talks about how the books have been represented on screen (and how this has influenced the pro/anti feminist debate) and I am just up to the part where Boyd Rioux is making the case for both viewpoints.
I can now appreciate my friends' views more but unless in the last portion of the book there are significant twists/revelations I am proud to stand by my opinion that this is a book that promotes female independence!
The book will be published in August and I know that I will be buying at least one copy for my Little Women critical friends!