Little Women remains to this day one of the books I have, curiously, read the most. And I’m not ashamed to state this. Why should I be? The notion that certain films or books are ‘chick-lit’ is one so alien to my mind. They may be geared at specific audiences mostly, but any strong work of art will appeal to any individual – or rather can appeal to any individual – person.
I don’t know what it is about Little Women that made me so attracted to it. Perhaps it was the characterisation in the women in the book at the age of ten. Maybe something in my childish mind told me that independent and restrained elegance in female characters was something to be admired when it could be created in fiction – when I say restrained elegance I mean the wisdom of modesty. Something about the girls – Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy – appealed to me, something told me that they were well crafted characters.
Who can explain why any fictional book touches anyone? Who can define how we class things such as quality or beauty? It seems to be something subconscious, something picked up both culturally and individually. To me,Little Women was, and because of fond memories still is, a work of pure art. It has its rough patches no doubt but it kept drawing me back in with the tales of women discovering their paths in life and ultimately a romance. Some might find this an overly sympathetic or sappy book. I’m not here to say it isn’t. But it touched me in a particular way and that is what I’m hear to state. Think of me as someone who has had an experience with a novel – for it is the nature of humanity to aim to share experience.
I’ll always describe myself as a romantic at heart, in the sense that I’m an idealist, that I hold to ideals and to the belief that people can be better. Age and time have perhaps developed me into more of a cynical idealist but a part of me is strongly romantic deep down. It is the poetic side of me, the writer side of me, the side that wants to break free of conventions and try to find the words to explain what I so clumsily cannot. It is that part of me that was awakened by such literature as this – I must admit that delving into something like Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret might have stunted such development however.
Somewhere in a distant time a copy of Little Women floats. It has paper browned through the constant touching of grubby little fingers; pages crumpled and worn with regular turning (or heaven forbid – leaving it with the spine open on a chair); and there are unidentifiable food stains on several pages. It may not have been the greatest of copies, certainly nothing extraordinary about it, but it was my copy. And it was a copy well loved. And it was the extra love that added an aura of romance and a boundless love to it. And it is to this image, lost in the vortex of space and time, that I return to when I think of this novel.