Last year I stumbled across this brilliant story that draws upon two of my favorite books, Lord of the Rings and Little Women. It remains one of my favorite pieces of literary speculation. Little lords and women of the Ring was written by Adanwen, who unashamedly lives and breathes Tolkien’s classic. I love the way she has imagined how Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy might have befriended the beloved characters of Middle Earth.
The story takes place during the time Mrs March is away tending to her husband in Washington, and the Laurences are helping to keep guard over the March sisters left at home. Then one snowy day, who else should Jo stumble upon than the Fellowship of the Nine, worn from their attempted journey to Mordor and quite bewildered by the unfamiliar world of quiet Concord…
I had the privilege of a brief interview with the author, and she has kindly allowed for a snippet from her story to be published below (don’t worry, there is also a link to the full story so you won’t be left wondering!).
How did you begin writing this story? What inspired it?
I had the basic idea in summer 2014, when I happened to be very much immersed in both fandoms at the same time (Little Women always was one of my favourite childhood stories/memories, and Lord of the Rings is my life, basically). I love crossovers and always am thinking about how characters from one story would act in another story, how they’d get along with other characters, etc, so it was nothing unusual.
The unusual thing was that I sat down and wrote it! I think that was because about one and a half years after having had the idea, and having made a tumblr post about it, I introduced one of my best friends to Little Women. And since she loved it (as well as Lord of the Rings), I went back and found the motivation to actually write it.
What’s your favorite scene in Little Women?
Good question! I think “Beth finds the Palace Beautiful” is my favourite chapter, so I’ll go with the ending of that, when Beth resolutely marches over to Mr Laurence to thank him for her new piano. It’s so beautiful!
Is there anything you wish Louisa May Alcott had written into Little Women? If so, what?
Since Beth is my favourite character (I identify so much with her), I wish she had written a bit more about her. Also I live in denial of the existence of such a thing as “Good Wives” – for me it’s probably the worst sequel ever and I just really wish she hadn’t written it.
Jo & Laurie or Jo & Professor Bhaer at the end of Little Women? Why?
I always was and will be an avid shipper of Jo and Laurie. I think their deep friendship is the perfect base for a romantic relationship. They just always were obvious companions to me. On top of that I don’t like ships with older men/father figures and young women. I would have preferred Jo to stay single if not ending up with Laurie.
Many thanks again Adanwen for this excerpt from Little lords and women of the Ring – I trust others will enjoy it as much as I!
“I feel like I should write to Marmee about the strangers, but it seems too surreal, I’m afraid she wouldn’t believe me and only worry about the state of my mind.” Meg said, several days later, while poring over their mother’s last letter from Washington, which she meant to answer that morning.
“How can you still call them strangers?” Jo protested from the depths of a blanket pile, for she had caught a cold in the chill weather. “With Sam cooking for us every day and everyone else behaving like our long lost brothers.”
It was true that Sam had found a permanent spot in their kitchen, after a power struggle with Hannah, who had only allowed him shared access to her domain after he had proven his superior skills by producing a delicious dinner for the whole company and March family all on his own, and in record time as well.
“Well, they can’t stay at the Laurences forever.” Meg retorted, as if that would finish the debate.
It was true that the “merry men,” as Jo called them, were now lodged at the great house across the fence. Being quite overwhelmed by the ravenous appetite of the little boys, Jo had sought help in Laurie the day after their arrival.
Laughing outright at Jo’s story, he still consented to go and see the company, having to bear Jo’s laughter in turn at his incredulous face.
After the first shock he was eager enough to make everyone’s acquaintance and he quickly saw what Jo meant – the old house couldn’t possibly hold such a large and strange party for long, so he proposed to move everyone over at once, without waiting to put the question to his grandfather. This latter point was exactly what made Jo hesitate to accept the gracious offer, even though it was more than obvious how relieved she was at it.
“Don’t worry about grandpa, leave him to me. I’m sure he won’t object to have some more life in the silent, old house, and that fellow, Mr Gandalf, he seems honourable. I’m sure they’d get along. Only if Beth could vouchsafe for all of them, it would make things much easier, true enough.” He added the last bit as an afterthought, trying not to betray how unsure he was of his grandfather’s hospitality in this case.
“Oh, I’m sure she would if she knew them, but I couldn’t persuade her to come down and see them yet!” Jo groaned, being reminded of another problem.
Taking a look at the assembly (half of them being very loud, and the other half looking calm but very unusual), Laurie could very well understand Beth’s feelings.
“Never mind then. I’ll manage.” He consoled Jo, squaring his shoulders once and then starting to treat the whole thing as a joke from that moment onward.
There was a little row between Mr Laurence and him afterwards, but Laurie “managed” in the end, and after a long, mysterious talk with Gandalf (Laurie was sent away but ere long he could hear muffled laughter and smell pipe smoke), Mr Laurence acquiesced to let the company stay.
“I wish they could, though.” Jo sniffed at Meg’s comment, which had less to do with her attachment than her running nose. “Things have gotten much jollier and a thousand times more interesting since they arrived – they are just what we needed after that worry about father!”
“If you ask me, they are more trouble than fun, and they’ll bring us more trouble yet, no doubt.” was Meg’s withering reply, as she tried to concentrate on writing a reply to her mother, but was continually disturbed by pearls of laughter and shouting from the garden. “I wish they were more quiet in any case.”
“Calm down, I’ll tell them.” Jo appeased her sister, getting out of the blanket pile to quickly change into thick layers of cloaks and shawls.
Stepping out into the cold, she easily spotted the cause of the clamour in the snowball fight between the little boys and the taller members of the company, minus Gandalf.
“BE QUIET!” She shouted to the group, causing Meg inside to wince and leave a huge ink stain on a newly finished sentence.
Seeing her mission as accomplished, Jo went on to see what Amy, who was sitting on a bench a bit off, was doing. She was completely covered in her enormous blue winter coat and wool bonnet, contrasting strongly with her little, red hands and nose, the only parts left to the mercy of the chilling November wind.
As she approached, Jo saw why she had taken off her gloves – she was sketching. Meaning to ask her for a picture of the whole company, lest they should depart without her having anything to remember them by, Jo greeted her sister, but was surprised to find her colour up and hastily cover her sketchbook with her arms.
“What’s the matter?” She inquired, walking round her, so as to catch a glimpse of her sketch.
Managing to extricate the sketchbook from her after a long and hard fight, she laughed out loud in amazement. “Why, they’re all of Legolas! I knew you had taken a fancy to him!”
“Give it back!” Amy shouted, wrestling the sketchbook back from Jo. Settling the sheets and her dress, she continued in the most prim manner. “You needn’t laugh, he’s simply the most stratifying to draw.”
“So I should think!” Jo agreed, after having laughed at her sister’s archaeological assessment of the young man – or young-looking, at least. Sometimes there was something eerily primeval about him. “But I thought you wanted to draw all of them!”
Amy sniffed with the superior air of an artist who knew their matter. “Maybe later on. I don’t know if I want to do all of them. Some of them are positively aggratating.”
Jo knew what she meant – Gimli’s table manners had even shocked her at times, and she knew that Amy despised Aragorn for his dirty and worn clothing and ragged appearance. She had found Boromir romantic enough in the beginning, until she had realised how domestic he was. Chopping wood, setting the table, and, worst of all, offering to put on her bonnet, was not consistent with her ideal of the bearing of a true aristocrat (even though she didn’t know how to spell the word). She got along well enough with the little boys when she forgot to play the young lady, but spent more and more time trailing after Legolas wherever he went, as Jo had noticed.
“You shouldn’t aggravate him by following him around all the time, he’ll find it annoying.” Jo warned and corrected her at the same time.
“Legolas knows much better than that! He never told me to “run along” or any of the sort!” Amy defended herself and her object of admiration in a high-pitched tone.
It was true that Legolas didn’t seem to be bothered by her, but the truth was that he hardly paid her any attention at all. It was impossible to say whether ignoring her came naturally to him or whether it cost him as much as Meg trying to concentrate on her letter, since his face was a perfect blank most of the time – very fascinating to draw, but hard to read, especially for little Amy, who had no more experience with elves than from the vague remembrance of fairy stories.
Jo only shook her head at the stout remonstrance, but didn’t dwell long on her sister’s infatuation. “Let her fill her sketchbook with him, I’ll be sure to get a company sketch out of her when she’s tired of long tresses and piercing blue eyes.” She thought.
But Jo was mistaken in supposing Amy fickle in this instance. Her obsession did not subside but increase, so much so that everyone noticed it and started to wish that Legolas would put a stop to it soon. Meg talked first to Amy and then to Laurie, asking him to distract her, but even he found it difficult to make her forget about archery, which she had taken a sudden interest in, and long golden locks, in this case, not her own.
“It’s quite hopeless.” Laurie observed to Jo, after coming back from a snow ride with the afflicted lady. “You’d better have them marry and be done with it.”
Jo laughed with Laurie, but Meg, who was sewing in the corner, put on a sober face. “I’m afraid I can’t think too highly of this Legolas, if he doesn’t know when to put everyone at rest. It’s very disconcerting.”
“Come, don’t be too hard on the fellow.” Laurie replied, warming his hands by the fire. “I haven’t spent as much time with him as Amy, but as magnificent as his eye sight may be, he doesn’t seem to be too observant when it comes to much subtler things than an apple on a pole a 160 feet away.”
Meg continued to grumble, but Jo laughed it off once more. “I don’t even see why all of you have to make such a fuss about it. They’ll be off in time any way, more’s the pity. But that will definitely put a stop to this silliness for good, if nothing else does.”
Trix Wilkins is the author of The Courtship of Jo March: a variation of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, available from Kobo, Apple, Barnes & Noble and Angus & Robertson.