ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Little Women Book Review

Updated on June 1, 2020
Paul Kuehn profile image

Since retirement, Paul likes reading classical English literature. British romantic classics from the 19th century are his favorites.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott


The Book Little Women

I have just finished reading the delightful novel Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. This is a classic of American literature enjoyed by many generations of readers and especially myself.

When I was a young boy in the early 50s, Louisa May Alcott was introduced to me in a card game called Authors which I can still remember playing with my mother. At that time, I remember seeing her picture on playing cards along with other famous American authors such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Washington Irving, and Mark Twain.

Readers of all ages have delighted in Little Women which is a story loosely based on Alcott's childhood and her experience with three sisters. In scenes from American girlhood and young womanhood in the second half of the 19th century, Louisa May Alcott makes women think higher of themselves as reflected in the choices made by four sisters - Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy.

According to Regina Barreca, professor of English and Feminist Theory at the University of Connecticut, autonomy, creativity, freedom, and community are the legacies of Little Women.

Biography of Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott was born in Pennsylvania on November 29, 1832. Her father, Amos Bronson Alcott, was an unsuccessful poet who taught Louisa until she was 16. During Alcott's childhood, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Nathaniel Hawthorne were family friends who also taught the girl.

As a girl, the Alcotts lived in Boston and Concord Massachusetts. Due to family poverty, from 1850 to 1862, Louisa May Alcott worked as a teacher, seamstress, governess, domestic helper, and writer to help support her family.

Alcott's writing career began in 1851. Beginning in that year, she had published poems, short stories, and thrillers under the pen name of Flora Fairfield. Based on her service as a nurse in Washington D.C. during the Civil War, Alcott published Hospital Sketches in 1863.

Louisa May Alcott started using her real name in articles written in the Atlantic Monthly and Lady's Companion during the 1860s.

After a trip to Europe in 1865, Little Woman was published in two volumes in 1868 and 1869. Other notable books written by Louisa May Alcott include Little Men (1871,) Eight Cousins (1875,) and Jo's Boys (1886.) All of these books were sequels to her masterpiece Little Women.

Louisa May Alcott was single throughout her life and died in Boston on March 6, 1888.

Biographical information is taken from Wikipedia and

Setting and Characters of Little Women

The setting of the novel Little Women is probably in the Alcott home in Concord, Massachusetts during and following the American Civil War 1861-1865.

Major characters in the story include the four March sisters - Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy -, Mrs. March or Marmee, and Laurie or Teddy, Mr. Laurence's grandson.

At the beginning of the novel, Meg the oldest and most beautiful 16-year-old sister works as a governess during the day to help support her family.

Jo at 15 is rebellious and tomboyish with a very bad temper. During the day, she also works outside of the house as a companion for her rich Aunt March.

The next oldest, Beth, is 13. She is delicate, sickly, and endowed with musical talent in playing the piano. She receives her education at home.

Amy, the youngest at 12, is spoiled, artistic, and very worldly. She attends school.

Mrs. March or Marmee is the wise religious mother who wants her daughters to appreciate hard work, poverty, and also be of service to the community.

Laurie or Teddy is the 15-year-old grandson of the next-door neighbor, Mr. Laurence. He is an orphan living with his grandfather. This fun-loving lad is being tutored at home by Mr. John Brooke.

The Plot of Little Women

As the book begins, it is just before Christmas in probably 1861. Mrs. March and her four daughters - Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy - are living under poor conditions in most probably the New England area of the United States. The father, Mr. March, is serving as a chaplain with the Union Army during the Civil War.

On Christmas Day, the Marches give their breakfast to a German immigrant family where the mother has just given birth. In the following days before New Year's Day, Meg and Jo attend a holiday party in a distant neighborhood. There they meet the 15-year-old boy, Laurie, who lives next door to them.

Within the next few days. Jo takes the initiative to make friends with Laurie. He quickly becomes almost a brother to all of the sisters with a special friendship for Jo.

During the next year, the friendship between the March and the Laurence family (Laurie and Mr. Laurence) grows and blossoms. Laurie is included in all of the daily fun activities of the girls which include writing clubs, picnics, skating, and going to the movies.

During the year, Jo starts writing short stories for money and a romance develops between John Brooke and Meg. Jo is taught how to control her temper and Amy is punished at school for trying to impress her classmates with a stock of prohibited lemons in her desk. After Beth endears Mr. Laurence by playing the piano, he presents her with a small piano which was originally intended for his dead granddaughter.

After Mrs. March travels to Washington D.C. to be with her husband who is seriously ill with pneumonia in December of probably 1862, Beth contracts and almost dies of scarlet fever. Christmas is happy, however, as Beth's fever breaks and she starts to recover just at the time that Mr. and Mrs. March and John Brook return from Washington.

As part two of the novel begins, three years have passed and the March sisters are now almost all little women. After Meg and John Brooke get married, Laurie starts his college life. Amy who has impressed her aunt and other relatives with good manners is rewarded by them and taken on a long trip to Europe.

A while later, Jo suspects that Beth loves Laurie. To let a relationship between them develop, Jo decides to take a job as a governess in New York City during the autumn and winter in a boarding house run by Mrs. March's friend. While there, Jo does more writing and meets Professor Bahre.

Shortly after Jo returns home, Laurie graduates from college and wants to marry Jo. When Jo refuses, Laurie is heart-broken but agrees to go with his grandfather on a long trip to Europe to forget about Jo. While in Europe, Laurie meets up with Amy.

While all the above is happening, Beth is starting to seriously fail in her health probably as long-range complications of her scarlet fever. Beth eventually dies.

The end of the novel is surprising but happy. You must read this book to find out what happens to Jo, Amy, Laurie, and Professor Bahre.

Themes in Little Women

As I read Little Women, I realized four main themes expressed in this outstanding novel. They are as follow:

1. Independence and Freedom of Women

The independence and freedom of women are seen in the actions of Jo. According to Jo, women need not be tied down and supported by men or others. They can make their living and choose their careers.

2. Remaining True to Principles

This is a virtue given to the March sisters by their mother and father. Professor Bahre reinforces this virtue when critiquing Jo's writing. Meg and Amy also learn that they should not put on airs and pretend to be someone they are not.

3. Creativity

This theme is expressed in the writing ability of Jo, the music of Beth, and the art of Amy. It is also seen in the drama skits written and produced by all four sisters.

4. Helping the Community

Early in the book, Mrs. March shows her daughters how to be compassionate and help German immigrants. The grandfather, Mr. Laurence also displays helping the community in his philanthropy. Finally, Jo exhibits this virtue in her plans to establish a school for boys.

Scene from Louisa May Alcott: PBS

Evaluation of Little Women

I have nothing but good things to say about Little Women. It is a great book for all ages, especially girls and young women. The plot of the book moves very smoothly and I guarantee that you will fall in love with most of the characters. This novel should be read today because it is filled with very good moral messages. These messages include the importance of work, compassion, and help for neighbors, being true to your principles, and love among siblings and love for parents.

Although some might judge Little Women as being too juvenile or pro-feminist for the time it was written, you can't deny it is a great novel for the moral messages the author succeeds in getting across to readers.

Characters in Little Women

Which character in Little Woman do you enjoy the most?

See results

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2015 Paul Richard Kuehn


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Paul Kuehn profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      7 weeks ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Thanks for your comment. No, I have watched the movie adaptation of "Little Women," but I am anxious to do so.

    • Literarycreature profile image


      2 months ago from Argentina

      I have read "Little Women" numerous times, and it is one of my favorite books ever (I have also written an article about it myself last year) so it is wonderful to find people who appreciates the story as it deserves. Some people think that it is boring, and girlish, and I really can't understand it, it is so beautifully written!

      Have you watch the last movie adaptation of "Little Women"? Since you think so highly of the book I thought I would ask for your opinion on the subject.

      Great review!

    • Paul Kuehn profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      5 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Thank you very much for your nice comment about my review of Little Women. Have you read other books by Alcott?

    • profile image


      5 months ago

      I love this book review. You did a great job. I have read this book and it is one of my favorite books.

    • Paul Kuehn profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      20 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Donetta, I am very happy that you think highly of my review. Have you read the other books in the series, namely "Little Men" and "jo's Boys?" I won't tell you the ending of Little Women. If you read the other two books, you will find out.

    • Donetta Sifford profile image

      Donetta Sifford 

      20 months ago from Parrott, Virginia

      I read Little Women when I was a child and adored it. My favorite of the March sisters was Jo and I remember being disappointed when she turns down Laurie's proposal. This is a wonderful review. It's been quite awhile since I read the book so I have forgotten the ending. I must put this on my reading list so I can be reminded of the March sisters' fate.

    • Paul Kuehn profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      I have just finished reading "Little Men". It is a good sequel to "Little Women" and I think you will enjoy it, too.

    • shon1121 profile image

      5 years ago from Scotland

      Made for very interesting reading and having read your post it makes me want to read it all over again! So interesting the background and to read anothers observations.

    • Paul Kuehn profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      5 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Larry, As soon as you have the chance, you should read Little Women. You definitely won't regret it. I'm happy you liked my review.

    • Paul Kuehn profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      5 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Hi Mary, For a strange reason, I started becoming very interested in the Bronte sisters 4 years. I really loved the romantic themes in Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. I turned to Louisa May Alcott because I wanted to compare her with the Bronte sisters who wrote at almost the same time. I am very happy you liked my book review.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      5 years ago from Oklahoma

      Little Women is a classic that I haven't got around to reading yet.

      Great read.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I absolutely loved reading that book as well as some others written by Louisa May Alcott and your review of it was excellent. It definitely teaches good moral values and is an interesting snapshot of that day and time as well as that family's circumstances. Up votes and happy to pin to my books board as well as share.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      5 years ago from New York

      Very interesting review of Little Women Paul. I have to admit I was surprised when I first read you were reviewing it but you have done a masterful job. I'm not saying you can't review a book, it's just that Little Women is such a woman's book! Well done my friend.

      Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.

    • Paul Kuehn profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      5 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Unfortunately I never read any of Louisa May Alcott's books when I was young. Maybe it's because I only thought they were intended for girls and young women, I wish I would have read Little Women before, because I found it very interesting and enjoyable. Thanks for the votes, pinning, and sharing with followers!

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      5 years ago from North Texas

      I loved all the books Alcott wrote. My grandmother had them all in hardcover, the ones you named, and loaned them to me when I was just 9 years old. They were quite worn as they had been loaned to all my girl cousins too, and I have a lot of cousins!

      Voted up and interesting. Pinning to Awesome HubPages and shared with followers.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)