‘The Little Women Letters’ by Gabrielle Donnelly

'The Little Women Letters' by Gabrielle Donnelly

Author of 'Little Women' Louisa May Alcott

I love the novel ‘Little Women’. For one summer of my teenhood, I read the novel over and over and over, and watched the Winona Ryder movie version on constant repeat. I loved the emotional relationships between the sisters, I loved the tumultuous relationship between Jo and Laurie, I loved the description of the sisters’ house, I loved Alcott’s attention to the little details such as the description of the Pickwick Papers … I just loved (and still love) the novel. I think at one time I had somehow collected three copies – all three sitting together in a place of honor on my over-wrought bookshelf.

My love for Alcott’s signature novel is the reason why I just had to read this ‘continuation’ of the March sisters tale – and being one of three sisters, I am just a sucker for a sister story.

‘Women with sisters are always kissing each other at home, and then when they go out in public, they can’t control themselves and become a menace to society.’

“The Little Women Letters’ is a story about the bonds between three sisters – Emma, Lulu, and Sophie; their best friend – Charlie (a female Charlie); and the sisters mother – Fee. Fee (short for Josephine), Emma, Lulu and Sophie are direct descendants of ‘Little Women’ heroine, Josephine March. The family is proud to be the descendants of the March family and talk about Aunt Jo often, although they do not learn much about her actual character and life until they search through a collection of long-lost papers in the attic.

While the bulk of this tale is about the sisters, there is also some marital issues explored between Fee and her husband of many years. Out of which yielded some wonderful advice for anyone in a relationship or marriage – and I must say some of the most interesting parts of the tale as the advice seemed so poignant.

‘Of course we all want to make compromises for our spouse. That’s part of the bargain of marriage, after all. But when compromise gets into sacrifice,  then that’s when the territory becomes dangerous, because that’s when resentments build up. And the problem with navigating this territory is that there is no map, because what’s compromise for one person might be the most terrible sacrifice for another.’

I think this book was a nice, fun read – nowhere near as memorable as ‘Little Women’ – but in no way an embarrassment to the establishment. The only issue I did have initially is that the book ended, wrapped up in a neat, happy, couple-filled bow – something Louisa May Alcott generally attempted to fight against in her writings in an effort to show women as having more to offer the world besides wife and motherhood – but then I thought, who wants a sad ending … more realistic, yes, but I assume not as marketable.

Salon Summary

RECOMMENDABILITY: 3 {out of 5} stars  |  ★★★☆☆
REPETITIVE READABILITY: 1 {out of 5} stars  |  ★☆☆☆☆
RATING: 3 {out of 5} stars  |  ★★★☆☆