I never read Little Women as a child, but I was always aware of it sitting there in my parent’s bookshelf. I was told it was a ‘girl’ book, and like all things pink, I didn’t want to go near anything that was labelled girly. I wanted to run and fly and kick a ball – anything but be labelled girly. So instead of reading Little Women I read the ‘boy’ books that were in my brother’s bedroom. Biggles, The Three Investigators and The BFG were the sort of books that filled my imagination.
Then, earlier this year, I came back to Louisa May Alcott as part of my studies of women writers. Older, more comfortable with my own self-defined feminist form of femininity I was ready to discover the joy of Little Women. And what a joy it was to find a protagonist in the form of Jo March. She was exactly the type of girl I wanted to be at 12 years old. Full of life and fun an mischief. I needed to read this book back then as should all children – girls and boys – for its pictures of life, love, happiness and sorrow at its fullest. Okay, so it is a little too didactic for modern tastes, but it is still such a beautiful book that if you haven’t read it yet then do yourself a favour.