Alcott’s ‘little women’ – talented tomboy and aspiring author Jo, tragically frail Beth, beautiful Meg, and romantic, spoiled Amy, united by their devotion to each other, their struggles to survive in New England during the Civil War and their support of their beloved and charitable Marmee. Jo and Meg each make a small wage: Jo as companion to crotchety, elderly Aunt March, and Meg as governess to the small children of a wealthy family. Jo yearns for independence and Meg longs for the beautiful things she sees at the wealthy home. Amy is at school, quite a pet and favourite; and Beth is shy and timid, happy with her kittens, dolls and household tasks. Based on Alcott’s own early life, Louisa supported herself and her sisters by sewing, washing and taking a job as a domestic servant. But she soon discovered she could make more money writing. Little Women brought her lasting fame and fortune, and far from being the “girl’s book” her publisher requested, it explores such timeless themes as love and death, war and peace, the conflict between personal ambition and family responsibilities and the divide that existed then between the rich and poor.
Little Women: Louisa May Alcott
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