First of all, a warning. If you come across a Penguin Classics edition of Little Women that has this cover: it will only include the first part of Little Women. It took me a while to figure this out, and I was greatly surprised and pleased that nobody died (as I have a vivid memory of that Friends episode in which Rachel gives Joey a spoiler…) If I had known there was a version in which nobody died, I would have probably been much keener to read Little Women as a child. As it was, I waited till I was twenty-six, which is possibly not the target age group for this book.
There were bits that I really enjoyed: the opening page for starters, and most of the bits that involved Jo, Beth, and Amy. I will admit that I was surprised to find that the whole book was laid out according to the sections of the Pilgrim’s Progress, and at times I did find the moralizing was a bit heavy-handed ( I really think the girls are smart enough to realize what the moral of a story is without Mummy summing it up for them). Funnily enough, this left me wondering what my reaction to this would have been if I were a child, as I had far less trouble with explicit moralizing then– I might have loved it, I might have hated it. Who knows?
At my current age, I was left longing for Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer which was published only 7 years after the rather prim and proper Little Women. That’s not to say I didn’t find the book worth reading, and I will probably reach for its second part out of curiosity.