I love "Little Women." I've been basking in the glow of its wonderfulness since I finished it a couple weeks ago. This is the first book I've wanted to study deeply and write about since graduating from Utah State 10 years ago (no, this isn't that). It is on my list of books I want to study for the rest of my life.
In a very small nutshell, this book is about values, and most especially, family values. I found the simple teachings to be deeply refreshing.
"Learn to know and value the praise which is worth having."
"Watch and pray, dear, never get tired of trying, and never think it is impossible to conquer your fault."
"Trifles show character."
"A woman's happiest kingdom is home, her highest honor the art of ruling it not as a queen, but as a wise wife and mother."
"Principles...may seem like prison walls to impatient youth, but will prove sure foundations to build character upon."
Mrs. March is a wise mother in every way. One of my favorite passages comes after Meg has been out with friends and overhears her friend's mother gossiping about the "plans" Mrs. March has put into play for her daughters by encouraging them to be close to their wealthy neighbor and his grandson. Meg is upset by the assumption, and upon arriving home and discussing it with her mother, she eventually asks her if she does have "plans" for them.
"Yes, my dear, I have a great many; all mothers do, but mine differ somewhat from Mrs. Moffat's. . . I want my daughters to be beautiful, accomplished, and good; to be admired, loved, and respected; to have a happy youth, to be well and wisely married, and to lead useful, pleasant lives, with as little care and sorrow to try them as God sees fit to send. To be loved and chosen by a good man is the best and sweetest thing which can happen to a woman, and I sincerely hope my girls may know this beautiful experience. . . My dear girls, I am ambitious for you, but not to have you make a dash in the world--marry rich men merely because they are rich, or have splendid houses, which are not homes because love is wanting. . . I'd rather see you poor men's wives, if you were happy, beloved, contented, than queens on thrones, without self-respect and peace."
Mrs. March's words, actions, and example were perfect to help her daughters reach that vision. Her wisdom and teaching to help them reach it were so pure, I underlined just about everything she says. Her determination in this shows by how firmly she has trained herself. Apparently she had a temper of her own like Jo's, till she finally decided "I must try to practice all the virtues I would have my little girls possess, for I was their example. . . The love, respect, and confidence of my children was the sweetest reward I could receive for my efforts to be the woman I would have them copy."
Funny, the week after I finished "Little Women" I read a little snippet about an article where the author calls it not only "stale" and ranks it with other "badly written" books, but he also says it's "a little creepy." No, I am not bitter. Just sad that those of lesser vision don't realize the beauty of this book.
I could say much more about it, but suffice it to say, I definitely definitely definitely recommend it.
P.S. Just found this review that has a lot of good points as well.