Little Men is, technically, the sequel to Little Women and picks up a good numbers of years later, after Jo March and her husband, Professor Bhaer, as they start their school at Plumfield, the house that originally was owned by Jo’s Aunt March. The novel opens when Nat, a street-bound boy with an amazing ability to play the violin beautifully, shows up on Jo’s doorstep, and from then on out the story features a stable but large group of kids and their kind and guiding adult influences. The Bhaer’s host about ten boys in their school and two girls, and I have to say that, despite the fact that this book should be everything I hate, I can’t help but be in love with it!
First of all, there are a number of things about this book that I SHOULDN’T like: It’s highly, HIGHLY moralizing (as in, every time a small speech is made or a story is told, you can be damn sure that there is a moral behind it), it’s saccharin sweet, only a few of the main children are fully developed, and the writing style has the wonderfully early 19th-century aspect where, if you don’t catch the subject and verb right away, you’re going to be lost by the end of a VERY long sentence! But, even with all of these things, I LOVE this book!
Perhaps it’s because it’s a sequel to one of my top five favorite books of all time, and, even more than that, follows my favorite character out of said book (what tom-boyish, bookish little girl wouldn’t find a heroine in Jo March), or perhaps it’s because I liked so many of the morals that were being jammed down my throat on almost every page – morals on things like trusting yourself, believing in love, investing in the goodness of people, continuing to believe, having faith – all things that I find extremely important in addition to extremely true! It also has to be said that the morals are taught in some very interesting ways, through some really involved metaphors, that made it fun to learn the lesson, whether the learner by nine or ten (as the ones within the book) or much, much older than that (as the reader was, this particular time).
All in all, it has to be said that the book is worth reading, especially if you at all enjoyed Little Women (if you didn’t like Little Women, please, PLEASE don’t ever tell me that. We won’t be able to be friends anymore. I can deal with a lot, but not that). It wasn’t necessarily the best book I’ve ever read, but I didn’t end feeling at all disappointed, and in fact am rather looking forward to reading the last book in the ‘Little Women series’, Jo’s Boys, which follows the children of Little Men into their adult lives. It was a wonderful little book to bring me in to 2010, and be prepared – if you can get through this book without shedding a tear, you’re a far more stony person than I am! Happy reading!