Meg and Jo

by Virginia Kantra

I took a deep breath. My sister only wanted me to be happy. In her world, as in Shakespeare’s comedies, marriage was the restoration of the social order. I couldn’t get her to see that my staying single was not a tragedy.

This was a very well done, at times even inspired, modern retelling of Little Women. This first novel concentrates on Meg and Jo and the second will concentrate on Beth and Amy. By giving the characters, cultural references and the plot a modern spin, it does what all retellings should do: Help us see the classic characters, plot developments, and themes in a new light and bring them close to home. This book, besides being entertaining in its own right does this to a greater and lesser degree to all the characters. One of the biggest examples is the character of Mr. March. In the original Little Women, he was something of a hero, devotedly loving and loved by his wife and children. Picking him up and placing him in the modern setting of this book, we see him with fresh eyes. Still loved and admired at first. But as the book progresses we see that he is so busy being a saint and doing all of his good works, that he has no time for his family. He is cold and uncaring and thoroughly unlikable. I’ve heard of such people in modern life, giving their all for charity, their careers, generously giving to others while their families are forgotten. Haven’t you?

“He visits lots of patients. He prays with them and cries with them and comforts their families. He shows up for perfect strangers. But not for Mom,” Meg said. “Not for us.”

The themes remain the same, but there are some major changes. Beth doesn’t get sick in this one. In this first book, anyway, it is Momma that is very very ill and provides the crisis that brings the sisters back home and tests the family bond. Like the recent movie, the book starts with the 4 sisters as adults. Meg, a devoted (too devoted) if harried wife and mother is the only one still at home. The other 3 are pursuing their dreams in New York, Paris, and Branson, Missouri. Some of the iconic scenes from their childhood are remembered briefly such as Amy almost drowning, but this is very much a book about them as adults finding their happiness.

I highly recommend this book for those that might not be so devoted to the book and willing to see the story with fresh eyes, a sense of humor and a grain of salt.**4 stars out of 5**

May 29, 2020

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