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Four sisters live with their mother, facing Christmas without their father as the American Civil War is underway. The family is settled in a new neighborhood, living in genteel poverty after the father lost their money. Meg and Jo March, the elder sisters, both work outside the home for money to support the family. Meg teaches four children in a nearby family, while Jo aids her grand-aunt March, a wealthy widow whose strength is failing. Beth helps with housework, and Amy attends school. Their nearest neighbor is a wealthy man whose orphaned grandson lives with him. The sisters introduce themselves to the handsome shy boy, Laurie, who is the age of Jo. Meg is the beautiful sister; Jo is the tomboy; Beth is the musician; and Amy is the charming artist with blond curls. Jo is impulsive and quick to anger. One of her challenges in growing up is to control acting out of anger, a challenge that also faced her mother, Marmee. Marmee advises Jo on speaking with forethought. The boy Laurie enjoys his neighbors, joining the family often in play and home theatrics written by Jo. His grandfather, Mr. Laurence, is charmed by Beth, and gives her the piano used by Laurie's dead sister. Beth contracts scarlet fever after tending to a family where three children died of it. Her poor condition forces her sisters and the Laurences to call Marmee back from Washington, where she has gone to tend her husband, who contracted pneumonia. Beth recovers, but never fully. Jo tends Beth in her illness. Amy, not yet exposed to scarlet fever, is sent to live with Aunt March, replacing Jo after Beth recovers. Jo has success earning money with her writing. Meg spends two weeks with friends, where there are parties for the girls to dance with boys and improve social skills. Laurie is invited to one of the dances, as her friends incorrectly think Meg is in love with him. Meg is more interested in the young tutor for Laurie, John Brooke. Brooke traveled to Washington to help Mr. March, staying there when Marmee comes back to tend Beth. While with both March parents, Brooke confesses his love for Meg. The parents agree, but suggest they are both too young to marry, as Meg is just seventeen. They agree to wait. In the interim, Brooke serves a year in the war, is wounded, returns home and finds work so he can get a house for their upcoming marriage. Laurie's need for a tutor ends, as he goes off to college. The war ends. Meg and John marry and settle in the house, close to the March home. They learn how to live together, and soon have twins. Meg is a devoted mother that first year, and John begins to feel left out. Marmee advises Meg on how to balance caring for her children and being with her husband. Meg accepts help in watching them from the March family cook, and sees that John is a good father, rejuvenating their marriage. Laurie graduates from college, putting in effort to do well in his last year, at Jo's prompting. Jo decides she needs a break, and spends six months with a friend of her mother in New York City, serving as governess for her two children. The family runs a boarding house, with new people for Jo, the writer, to consider. She takes lessons in German from Professor Bhaer, who lives in the house. He has come to America from Berlin to care for the orphaned sons of his sister. For extra money, Jo writes stories without a moral, which disappoints Bhaer. Amy goes on a European tour with her aunt, uncle and cousin. Jo returns home, where Laurie proposes marriage to her, and she turns him down. He is heartbroken; both he and his grandfather go to Europe. Beth's health has seriously deteriorated, as Jo sees on her return. She devotes herself to the care of her sister, until Beth dies. In Europe, Laurie encounters Amy, who is growing up. On news of Beth's death, the two meet for consolation, and their romance grows strong, as Amy learns how to manage him.
Createspace Independent Publishing Platform, 9781543171174, 370pp.
Publication Date: February 17, 2017
About the Author
Louisa May Alcott (November 29, 1832 - March 6, 1888) was an American novelist and poet best known as the author of the novel Little Women (1868) and its sequels Little Men (1871) and Jo's Boys (1886). Raised by her transcendentalist parents, Abigail May and Amos Bronson Alcott in New England, she also grew up among many of the well-known intellectuals of the day such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau. Alcott's family suffered financial difficulties, and while she worked to help support the family from an early age, she also sought an outlet in writing. She began to receive critical success for her writing in the 1860s. Early in her career, she sometimes used the pen name A. M. Barnard, under which she wrote novels for young adults. Published in 1868, Little Women is set in the Alcott family home, Hillside, later called the Wayside, in Concord, Massachusetts and is loosely based on Alcott's childhood experiences with her three sisters. The novel was very well received and is still a popular children's novel today, filmed several times. Alcott was an abolitionist and a feminist and remained unmarried throughout her life. She died in Boston on March 6, 1888.