Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy
The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters
On its 150th anniversary, discover the story of the beloved classic that has captured the imaginations of generations.
Soon after publication on September 30, 1868, Little Women became an enormous bestseller and one of America’s favorite novels. Its popularity quickly spread throughout the world, and the book has become an international classic. When Anne Boyd Rioux read the novel in her twenties, she had a powerful reaction to the story. Through teaching the book, she has seen the same effect on many others.
In Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy, Rioux recounts how Louisa May Alcott came to write Little Women, drawing inspiration for it from her own life. Rioux also examines why this tale of family and community ties, set while the Civil War tore America apart, has resonated through later wars, the Depression, and times of changing opportunities for women.
Alcott’s novel has moved generations of women, many of them writers: Simone de Beauvoir, J. K. Rowling, bell hooks, Cynthia Ozick, Jane Smiley, Margo Jefferson, and Ursula K. Le Guin were inspired by Little Women, particularly its portrait of the iconoclastic young writer, Jo. Many have felt, as Anna Quindlen has declared, “Little Women changed my life.”
Today, Rioux sees the novel’s beating heart in Alcott’s portrayal of family resilience and her honest look at the struggles of girls growing into women. In gauging its current status, Rioux shows why Little Women remains a book with such power that people carry its characters and spirit throughout their lives.
Praise For Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters…
— Francine Prose - New York Times Book Review
Highly entertaining and eminently sane…[Rioux] paints a compelling portrait of Alcott, giving us fascinating insights into the creation of Little Women.
— Charlotte Gordon - Washington Post
A love letter written not by a smitten youngster naïve to her beloved's drawbacks but by a mature adult who can recognize complexity and nuance.
— Ilana Masad - NPR
Astute examination of the long life of Little Women.
— Sophie Gilbert - The Atlantic
Thoughtful…An adroit consideration of Alcott and her milieu.
— Meghan Cox Gurdon - Wall Street Journal
This delightful look at a great American classic…tells the book’s history, explores its abiding appeal, and considers its influence on generations of readers and writers since. It goes without saying that lovers of that book will adore this book. But even those who haven’t read Little Women will enjoy learning about the literary history behind it.
— Christian Science Monitor
Highly companionable and illuminating.
— Mark Rozzo - Vanity Fair
What a marvelous investigation of Louisa May Alcott’s slyly subversive Little Women! Anne Boyd Rioux has given us a thorough and insightful examination of the enduring appeal of Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, and why generations of readers have claimed the March sisters as their own.
— Katharine Weber, author of The Little Women
Reading Anne Boyd Rioux’s engaging Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters, has made me pick up Alcott’s novel yet again with renewed insight and inspiration. Every fan of Little Women will delight in reading this book. And all the women—and men—who haven’t read the novel will race to it after reading Rioux.
— Ann Hood, author of Morningstar and The Book That Matters Most
Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters masterfully peels away the layers of complexity in Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel. Reflecting astute research and scholarship, Rioux’s book is immensely entertaining and informative, and can be easily enjoyed by teachers, scholars, and the multitude of Little Women lovers around the world.
— Daniel Shealy, editor of Alcott in Her Own Time
W. W. Norton & Company, 9780393254730, 288pp.
Publication Date: August 21, 2018