So the Kindle is really great for reading classics.
I haven’t read Little Men in years and years and year, probably since middle school. I remember being disappointed in it way back when, and I can see why. It’s nowhere near as good at Little Women, but I enjoyed it this time around. I re-read Little Women a couple of years ago and was astonished to see how much of my thinking, attitudes, and personal philosophy was influenced by that book. This was re-emphasized with Little Men. Sure, it’s a little preachy sometimes. It’s a little too quaint and precious. But there are some good moral reminders (yes, heavy-handed, but oh well) and the stories of the young rascals were amusing, comforting, and funny. It was perfect for my current state of trying-to-get-back-into-serious-reading.
The story picks up a few years after the end of Little Women. Our heroine, Jo, has started a school for boys at Plumfield (the house she inherited from her great-aunt). She has twelve little imps, and a couple of girls to try and civilize the house. The boys are a wide range of personalities, but of course they all have lessons to learn and scrapes to get into and Precious Moments to have. And of course we sort of fall in love with all of them. My favorite is wild Dan — a street urchin brought in by one of the boys, who remembered him from his own street days. Dan has a rough time of it but in the end, he responds to love and care and starts to grow into a respectable young man. Keeping his charming rough edges, of course.
(In Hunger Games terms — he’s a Gale.)
Does this translate for modern readers? If you are a hardcore fan of Little Women like I am, then yes. I mean, it’s still not as good as L.W. but it’s amusing, touching (I cried!) and sentimental. I read this on my Kindle but I love the original illustrations.
I liked it so much that I’m moving right on to Jo’s Boys, which I know is probably even less good, but I’ll still enjoy it. Then it’s off to see what else the free Kindle store has to offer, and maybe by then my request for We Need To Talk About Kevin will be fulfilled! I’m still on the wait list…