Review

The Little Women

by Katharine Weber



Katharine Weber's THE LITTLE WOMEN is loosely based on Louisa May
Alcott's classic novel, though Janet Green is quite different from
Marmee March. Basically the only similarity is in the names of the
main characters: Meg, Jo, Amy and Teddy (and a dead goldfish named
Beth to round out all the sisters in the March family). The
difference is not necessarily a bad thing, but readers need to be
aware that this is not the story of their childhood.

Meg, Jo and Amy are sisters who find out that their English
professor mother (ah, the Alcott connection explained!) cheated on
their inventor father with one of her college students. Meg is a
college student at Yale, and Jo and Amy decide to pack up and
return to college with her in protest of their parents' refusal to
acknowledge the sin that has occurred within their family. The
sisters want their father to be angry at their mother and don't
understand why they are staying together. During this difficult
time, Meg's roommate Teddy, a fellow Yale student, acts as an older
brother to Jo and Amy and as a confidante to Meg.

THE LITTLE WOMEN details Jo and Amy's stint in New Haven and what
it was like for them to live on their own. Meg's ill-fated love
affair with a married Yale professor, which forces her to become an
adult, is also explored. In a somewhat disconcerting fashion, the
book alternates from third person narration to parts where Jo is
acknowledged to be writing the book, and Meg and Amy chime in with
their thoughts and opinions as to how the story is unfolding. This
can sometimes be jarring. Just as readers are becoming engrossed in
the story's action, suddenly the characters interject with their
thoughts.

Despite this criticism, THE LITTLE WOMEN is still a worthwhile
read. Meg, Jo, Amy and Teddy are honestly and realistically
portrayed. Readers will become invested in the characters and the
family. While the mother and father are not fleshed out fully, they
are interesting enough so that readers will want to find out more
about them. Teddy's grandmother, another minor character, fills a
needed void of the wise elder dispensing wisdom about life. She
also provides the family atmosphere that Meg, Jo and Amy are
missing while away from their home. Janet's photographer friend
helps out when Jo is very ill, taking on the role of guardian
angel.

Weber experiments with a combination of autobiographical material
and straight fiction and, for the most part, succeeds. The sisters
are facing modern problems (high rent, parking fees, unplanned
pregnancy) but traditional values remain (the importance of family
and taking care of one another). In the end, readers will be
satisfied with the blend of old and new that Weber has given
them.

Reviewed by Melissa A. Martin (melissaenglish72@yahoo.com) on January 22, 2011

The Little Women
by Katharine Weber

  • Publication Date: September 15, 2003
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • ISBN-10: 0374189595
  • ISBN-13: 9780374189594