By Trix Wilkins
Some things happen at just the right time. Just after starting yet another read of Little Women (I have lost count), I was kindly invited to take part in the Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge. For the last five years, Tarissa at In the Bookcase has hosted this event for all who want to read, laugh and cry over Louisa May Alcott’s books together. Thank you Tarissa for this timely invitation, and for the recent enlightening interview!
Why host a Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge?
I was inspired to start it because I had been wanting to read Little Women (again), followed by ALL of the sequels (for my first-time read) all together in one summer. And I thought that maybe some other bloggers and readers would like to come along for the ride with me. The challenge allows each reader to select their own LMA titles, so everyone can either choose something new to them, or something they’d like to re-read.
What started your interest in Louisa May Alcott?
For as long as I can remember, there’s been a blue hardback copy of Little Women sitting on my bookshelf. However it was acquired I can’t say exactly, but there it was.
I think I’ve always had a desire to read classic literature, even at a young age, because my family always had those books around the house. So it was a natural fit that one day at the age of 14, I cracked open this delightful book, filled with beautiful illustrations, and my heart became merry as I met these 4 little women, who, each in different ways, I found some kindred spirits.
If you could have a dinner party with LMA, what would you ask her?
I think I would ask Miss Alcott why she took to writing as her outlet. She could have just chosen teaching, or tried a different route more seriously such as acting, which she always enjoyed — but she chose writing books in an attempt to get published as her way of expressing herself. Why? And who inspired her the most to try her hand at writing? (I could make some guesses at this answer, but I’d like to hear it from her.)
Who is your favorite character from LMA’s novels?
There’s barely any guessing involved here. From the first pages I read, I’ve always been a fan of a certain budding authoress, Miss Jo March.
Romantic pairings in LMA’s novels – are there any you wish she had done differently, and if so, who and why?
Yes. And no. No surprise here either, the “romantic pairing” that irks me is Jo and Laurie. Aren’t they just completely made for each other? Yes, of course. And yet, Jo had to go off and marry a stuffy professor? (Well, maybe after I got to know Professor Bhaer in the later novels, he’s not so stuffy.) But still, it was surprising at first that Jo evades the charming man on her doorstep, the one who seems perfect for her (doesn’t every reader think this?).
But… after reading the sequels, and seeing the kind of life that Mrs. Jo Bhaer gets to lead later on, I found out that maybe it’s more perfect that she married the professor and is able to teach so many young ones and fulfill her dreams in that very special way.
Do you have a favorite LMA book/quote/scene? (Or all of the above?)
Okay, let’s start with my favorite book… It’s a toss-up between Little Women and Eight Cousins, because I love each of those novels so dearly.
As for a favorite scene? There’s a definite memorable scene for me, found in Little Women. When naughty Amy wretchedly burns Jo’s manuscript that she’s worked so hard on, it just about rips my own heart out, right alongside Jo’s. Imagine your life’s work going up in flames, and that’s what it’s like for dear Jo. Each time I’ve read it, that part of the story – while really not my “favorite” per se – is definitely one of the most memorable scenes for me.
And then a favorite LMA quote. Well, there are many that I adore. Miss Alcott has such a sweet way with words, and truly she had a lot of wisdom to share, whether she knew it or not. Well, how can I truly choose just one quote? I can’t, but I’ll share this one that shines with so much inspiration for me:
“I’d have a stable full of Arabian steeds, rooms piled with books, and I’d write out of a magic inkstand, so that my works should be as famous as Laurie’s music. I want to do something splendid before I go into my castle—something heroic, or wonderful—that won’t be forgotten after I’m dead. I don’t know what, but I’m on the watch for it, and mean to astonish you all, some day. I think I shall write books, and get rich and famous; that would suit me, so that is my favorite dream.”
Thanks again Tarissa! For all who would like to join the challenge and read along with your favorite LMA books (or variations, modern adaptations, spin offs, biographies of this amazing author), hop on over to In the Bookcase this June.
Trix Wilkins is the author of The Courtship of Jo March: a variation of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, for all who have ever wondered how things might have worked out differently for the beloved March sisters. Available in paperback and an eBook package.