Monday, January 7, 2013

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Title: Little Women

Author: Louisa May Alcott

Read by: Christina Ricci

Publisher: Penguin Audio

Length: Approximately 19 Hours

Source: Digital Review Copy from Penguin Audio – Thank-you!

I recently discovered that I was robbed as a youth. As I was listening to Christina Ricci’s excellent narration of one of my favorite novels, I discovered scene after scene of the classic novel that I didn’t remember. I read it many times as a youth and recently reread it a couple of years ago. What was happening? I got out my old classic copy bought from a scholastic book order when I was young and realized I HAD BEEN READING AN ABRIDGED VERSION MY ENTIRE LIFE. How could this happen to me? How had I never noticed the “abridged” before so apparent now on the cover?

Luckily I could now fill in the gaps with this audio book, and truthfully, I found the gaps to be more interesting now as an adult that I probably would have found them as a child. For instance, I never knew before that sainted perfect mother Marmee actually had anger control issues. She has a wonderful talk with Jo on how to control your temper and explains why she often has to leave the room or chew on her lip to control her anger. Marmee – I never knew! I loved this human flaw to a character that had always seemed so perfect before. It was also a lesson I appreciated as a mother as it is sometimes hard to make sure your temper does not get the better of you.

I also loved the extra material in “Good Wives” (the second half of Little Women) giving more detail to the relationships between each sister and their spouses and interesting dynamics with Meg’s children, Demi and Daisy. I loved the romance and found that some of the domestic trials of yesteryear could be the same today. For example, Meg always told John he could invite a friend over for dinner any time, but of course John picks a day when Meg has made and destroyed jam and has nothing ready for supper. Meg is horrified and very angry with John after the incident. I could imagine the same thing happening to me with Ben clueless on why I was angry.

I enjoyed listening to Little Women again. It was like visiting with old friends. I love the trials and tribulations of the March sisters, each with their beauties and their flaws. Ricci was an excellent narrator. The only problem I had with her narration was Hannah’s apparently Southern accent. I don’t picture Hannah as a southern servant, did I miss something?

Listening to Little Women also inspired me to rewatch the 1994 film starring Winona Ryder, Susan Sarandon, and Claire Danes. I love that film, but they leave so much out. I also love the 1930’s film starring Katherine Hepburn and 1940’s version starring June Allyson and Elizabeth Taylor, each with its own spin on the classic. I will admit thought that my favorite growing up in the 1980’s was a cartoon Little Women we owned on “videodisc.” It included a sequence where they rescue a runaway slave, which is not in the original novel. Looking around the internet, I discovered that this cartoon was actually a Japanese anime version. Very interesting! What is your favorite cinematic version of Little Women?

This audiobook has inspired me to dust off my copy of Little Men, which as I admitted previously, I never read as a child. I am interested to learn what happens next to the March family so hopefully I will be reading it soon.

If you are looking for the COMPLETE version of Little Women in a new format, I suggest the wonderful digital audio version narrated by Christina Ricci.


  1. This makes me wonder if I've been reading the abridged version as well! Man I hope not, but I can't seem to remember. This has to be one of my favorite classics! Great review!


  2. I love Little Women. I always have. I'm pretty sure I've always read the complete story. I'll have to check! I've never listened to it though. I'll bet that adds so much more.

  3. Excellent review, Laura! I believe I've read the complete version, but it doesn't hurt to double check. Good to note that Marmee was human, after all. I will keep an eye--or should I say an ear--out for the audio version featuring Christina Ricci.

  4. I think I read the complete version when I was a teenager. I LOVED this book. I truly wouldn't mind listening to it on audio. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  5. I'm glad I've made everyone think back to whether they read an abridged version or now! It is a heartwarming book and one of my favorites. It was especially nice to listen to it over the Christmas season, but it's a good book anytime. Listening to it was a whole new way to enjoy it.