It’s a new year, which means a new Classics Challenge! But unfortunately I do not blog as fast as I read. Here’s mini reviews of the last three classics I read for the 2014 Classics Challenge and if you’d love to join over 120+ people reading one classic per month this year, find out more about it here.
Merry Christmas and Other Stories by Louisa May Alcott
I cannot resist adorable Christmas stories, especially when they’re as beautiful as Penguin’s new Christmas Classic series. I promised myself that I wouldn’t buy any more books for the rest of the year, but then I went on a spontaneous trip last month to Foyles with Daphne and came across Merry Christmas and Other Stories. I bought it because I figured I’d have to wait another year to read it otherwise! It was a lovely book for me to read this Christmas Eve and Christmas Day – charming and delightful, but with an emphasis on those who are not fortunate as others and the importance of charity. An extract from Little Women is included as part of the collection and so I had to pick that as my next classic…
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Little Women was one of the classics that had been on my wishlist the longest. I think I first came across it while watching that episode of Friends. I didn’t know much about Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March, but it seemed like the perfect children’s classic for me.
Yet Little Women wasn’t as engaging as I had hoped. I wasn’t emotionally drawn into the sisters’ lives, which is important for a character-driven novel. It’s a great shame as I had high hopes. But I am struggling to decipher what exactly my issue was. I think I just wanted more to happen and more of an emotional punch – whether due to a sad story or a joyful one. It felt to me like the chapters could have been short stories rather than a linear storyline with a beginning, middle and end, even though it follows the lives of the sisters from childhood. I enjoyed some chapters quite a bit, whereas others not so much. And I was also surprised to discover that what I expected to happen in Little Women actually happens in the next book, Good Wives. I’ve not given up on Little Women, however. It’s one I’ll be coming back to, now that I know what to expect!
Five Children and It by E. Nesbit
I chose Five Children and It as my last classic of the year because it was my book club’s January pick because most of us also wanted to read Kate Saunders’ Five Children on the Western Front. Like Little Women (although I think it’s more intentional in Five Children and It), each chapter is like a short story about the group of siblings who each make a wish that the Psammead (a sand fairy) grants, with often chaotic and hilarious results. Although short stories will never be my favourite, it worked quite well in this sense because each chapter was a new day, but of course I still preferred some to others. I connected with E. Nesbit’s writing straight away – this is the first book by her that I’ve read – and I found the dialogue witty and charming. Be careful what you wish for! I’m looking forward to also reading The Railway Children and The Story of the Treasure Seekers.