Book Review: The Little Women Letters By Gabrielle Donnelly

Hello again, book lovers. I may have mentioned it once or twice, but Little Women and the rest of Louisa May Alcott’s books were a huge part of my childhood and have meant a lot to me and to generations of women in my family. Not only that, but Louisa was also one of my heroes when I was growing up and has been a big influence on my life.  It’s her birthday today and so in celebration of this wonderful author, I decided to share my book review of The Little Women Letters and a Little Women – inspired outfit for the holidays. Enjoy!

The Little Women LettersThe Little Women Letters by Gabrielle Donnelly
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Summery: Lulu Atwater is a bit of a loss. While her vibrant younger sister is living a charmed life as an aspiring actress and her solid, dependable older sister is about to get married, Lulu has no idea what she wants to do, where she fits in, or if she will ever find love. Then she discovers a trove of letters written by her great-great-great-grandmother, Jo March. As Lulu works her way through the letters, she discovers more about the lives of the “Little Women” from whom she is descended and gains insight and understanding into life, love, and sisterhood.

My Thoughts: I’ve read Little Women, Little Men, and Jo’s Boys more times that I can count so I cautiously excited when I discovered The Little Women Letters. Through these three books, I followed the lives of the “Little Women,” (Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy), from their girlhood to marriage, motherhood, and beyond – reading with interest as their children and Jo’s “boys” from her school at Plumfield grew up and started lives of their own. So the thought of visiting with the March family once again was something I couldn’t resist.

When I opened the book and read the first letter from Jo to Amy, I was shocked at how well the author, Gabrielle Donnelly, captured Louisa May Alcott’s voice and tone. I mean, it was seamless and I really felt like I was reading a lost chapter of a Louisa May Alcott book – at least at the beginning. But as the book progressed, I began to have the sneaking feeling that Donnelly may not know that Louisa May Alcott wrote two sequels to Little Women, and that there were a whole host of characters and much more of the March family history to draw on so she just began making stuff up as she went along. Instead of Lulu and her family being descended from either of Jo’s sons, Donnelly gave her a daughter. When Jo and her husband start their school for Little Men, instead of using any of the Plumfield boys from the books, Donnelly created some generic character and plugged him into the letters. She also liberties with the plot of Little Women too. She creates a ill-fated love affair for Jo and has Meg turning into an obnoxious match-maker but completely ignores Laurie and his proposal. In fact, Laurie is only mentioned once or twice until he comes home married to Amy. And while, Beth’s death features large in the letters, Lulu only discovers letters from Meg, Jo, and Amy.

As an Alcott super-fan, these changes, omissions, and weird additions prevented me from loving this book as much as I wanted to. That’s not to say that there weren’t things to enjoy about the book. It’s just that it was a bit of a mixed bag for me and to be honest, a more casual fan, especially one who read Little Women years ago and hasn’t come back to it as often as I do, would probably enjoy it more than I did.

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Blessed Together

When I think of the holidays, I think of time spent at home with family and few books evoke that feeling quite as well as Little Women. With this in mind, I designed this warm holiday outfit with a Little Women Novel Tea Necklace from the C. S. Literary Jewelry Etsy shop and a Little Women book purse by Novel Creations. There’s so much to love about this outfit but the best parts, (for me anyway), is how it reminds me of my own family and how many of us have grown up with the March sisters. My Little Women tea necklace was inspired by my own memories of drinking tea and talking about this book with my grandmother and the book purse has the same cover as the much-loved copy of Little Women I have on my own bookshelf.  All together this beautiful outfit captures everything that is warm and cozy and bright about the holidays.

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Thanks for visiting! Until next time, take care and happy reading!!

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