“I've got the key to my castle in the air, but whether I can unlock the door remains to be seen.” ― Little Women
Little Women is the story of the March sisters as they grow up during postbellum Massachusetts.
Little Women, published in two parts in 1868 and 1869, is classified as a Bildungsroman, or coming of age novel. The first part of the novel follows Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy through a tumultuous year of growing up while their father is serving in the Union Army. The second part of the novel, originally entitled Good Wives, picks up three years later and continues the story as the sisters grow up and marry.
Louisa May Alcott never intended for the book to be perceived as autobiographical, but it truly is. She based the main characters on her family, although they are idealized versions.
This is one of my favorite novels. Every time I read it, I feel enriched. I love the sisterly bond and the fact that the girls choose their own destinies, rather than allowing others to do it for them.
There are multiple film adaptations:
Little Women (1917) – starring Daisy Burrell. The first film version was a silent film. The film is lost.
Little Women (1933) – starring Katharine Hepburn and Joan Bennett. This film was directed by George Cukor. It was a huge success and is still considered a magnificent adaptation.
Little Women (1949) – starring June Allyson, Peter Lawford, Margaret O’Brien, Elizabeth Taylor and Mary Astor. This film was a star-studded movie and was a top grossing film. However, it had several changes from the novel, which detract from the story.
Little Women (1978) – starring Susan Dey, Meredith Baxter, and Greer Garson. This was a TV film. I’ve never seen it, but I can’t really imagine liking it- William Shatner played Professor Bhaer to Susan Dey’s Jo.
Little Women (1994) – starring Winona Ryder, Susan Sarandon, and Christian Bale. This film varies from the novel, but not in a way that detracts from the story. This is my favorite version.
It has also been adapted for the stage.