“Your favourite book”
My favourite book of all time has always been Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I read it when I was 13 or so, and while there may have been books that I enjoyed more when I read them, Little Women has stuck with me ever since.
I think part of it is tied to when I read it. At an age where I was starting to define who I would be, the quest that all teenager embarks upon, I found that I could see part of me reflected in each of the very different sisters.
In Meg, the eldest, I saw the older sister role I played. I’ll admit that I wasn’t always gracious about it, but I would step into the figure of authority when I thought it befitted the situation.
In Jo I saw the aspiring writer in me. Even then I knew that I wanted to write in some form or another, and I would conjure up adolescent romances to put to paper. I felt the loss of her manuscript keenly, as would anyone imagining the loss of their own creation.
Beth was whom I aspired to be. Calm, collected, patient. I can readily say that I was none of these things when I was 13, but I hope that I can also say that I grew into some of these qualities as the years went on.
Amy reflected my vanity. Her desire for pretty things and being spoiled resonated with my own same fancies. I’d like to claim that I’ve left those behind, but that would be unfair to all the pretty items that have caught my eye and opened my purse strings and would make false my admiration for lovely gifts!
This book taught me about the different faces of love. How the love Jo and Laurie had for each other turned into a tender fondness. How Beth could inspire love from even the most begrudging of old neighbours. How the sisters could, despite their differences, hold deep affection for one another.
Little Women was also the book that first taught me to feel the pain of losing a character. When Beth died, I was there with the March family, shedding a tear for the sister that represented ‘home’ throughout the book. There have been many such characters since, but none have represented a loss as tender or as heartbreaking as that of Beth.