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Hazel

Little Women Series

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I am currently reading this novel and not having read it before, I have heard/ had prior knowlegde of many (mainly female) readers compare and identify themselves with Jo. I really expected to do the same, but I was kind of horrifed to find myself more like Meg - did anyone feel the same?

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Actually I wanted to be Amy, especially when she grew up a bit, I adored Jo but never thought I could match her courage and sheer Jo-ness. I think we all have a little of the maternal, loving Meg and the selflessness of Beth.

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I loved this book and Good Wives and since reading both again recently I have been meaning to buy Jo Boys and Little Men for ages.

 

I wanted to be Amy for obvious reasons.

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Well I've always thought they were pickled limes!! However in the interests of clarification I present you with

 

5 to 6 limes, washed, halved, then quartered, so they are in eighths

lots of kosher salt

12 or more cloves of garlic, peeled and cut in slices

pimentos

canning jars (the old-fashioned kind with glass lids and rubber rings, since the metal lids can't stand brine. You can also use a stoneware pickle jar)

Start some water boiling.

 

Put in the jar a layer of limes and pimentos, sprinkle all over with salt, and add a layer of garlic slices. Repeat until the jar is full. Fill the jar with boiling water. Put the cap on, but don't tighten it down.

 

Let the jar ripen until the limes turn from bright green to grayish-green (about 3 weeks). A little whitish scum may form on the top if you've used waxed limes. Skim it off. Don't worry about it; this is an experience, germs don't count.

 

Eat on a rainy Saturday while rereading Little Women.

 

 

Found on this website http://world.std.com/~swrs/library/limes.htm

 

They are described as Sally Bucks Pickled Limes, a favourite of her grandmother and the same recipe as used by sailors to ward off scurvy!She admits to adding garlic and pimento to the original recipe she found.

 

I have pickled limes myself but to an Indian recipe. :D

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Can't vouch for the above recipe but the ones I used to make were lovely...they used a lot more spices and were a kind of simplified lime pickle. I have eaten Moroccan preserve lemons tho and they are ok...used in tagines etc.

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That's the kind of thing I think of when I see 'pickled limes', but it doesn't sound like the kind of thing little girls would take to school in a brown paper parcel and use to ingratiate herself with her schoolmates!

 

Guess tastes have changed with the passage of time, and the intervening Atlantic Ocean :rolleyes:

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wasn't it chocolate limes? or did my young mind just make that up because pickled limes sounded so disgusting?!?! (and this is perfectly possible, I used to change details of books all the time! I don't have a copy to check...)

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I don't know about the pickled Limes - guess I just imagined them to be like pickled onions.

 

However I must admit to changing things in books also - esp if the book ends without satisfying my need for details - I'll just make up the what happened next part myself.

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wasn't it chocolate limes? or did my young mind just make that up because pickled limes sounded so disgusting?!?! (and this is perfectly possible, I used to change details of books all the time! I don't have a copy to check...)

 

It is definitely pickled limes, now lime chutney I could get onboard with! Especially with a korma, peshwari nan, and vegetable pakora...mmmm is it dinner-time?!

 

Hazel

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Well that's good, I'm not hungry any more... ;) Pickled limes... God, limes are bad enough.

 

I sort of identified with all the sisters, that's a sign of the good writing.

I remember having an anime film version of the book when I was younger... odd.

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Definitely 'pickled'. I've been wondering about them for nearly 50 years!

 

Chapter 7, 'Amy's Valley of Humiliation', bottom of the first page in the edition I've just looked at.

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Ok, after mentioning this book in the 'worst books' thread, I should post here why I hated it.

 

I just felt a bit "blah" about it really. It is talked about as one of the great American novels, beloved by so many girls and women and generally fawned over. I took an age to get through it, so many parts of the novel are unbelievably dull and twee, and some parts are so insipid I had to skim read them just to get through it. The only bit that really grabbed me was when Beth died, the writing was outstanding and for a brief moment I so a glimmer of what is purported to be the great novel. I much prefer Alcott's story Behind a Mask - which is sheer genius. Maybe I am just not the type of female who is destined to like Little Women.

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Hi Hazel, thanks for explaining!

 

I wonder if it makes a difference if someone first read Little Women as a child or an adult.

 

Reading your comments made me realise that I have no sense at all of the quality of the writing in the book as a whole, it would never occur to me to wonder whether or not it should be thought of as a Great American Novel or not, and I have no idea whether Alcott wrote anything else worth reading, (other than the sequals to Little Women, of course!)

 

Having read it first with a child's perspective, I've never considered all the normal things I would think about now, if I read it for the first time. To be honest, I don't really want to look at it more critically just in case it spoils something that's special to me.

 

Part of the appeal has always been that my first experience of it was being read it by my mum, and being told it had been one of her favourite books when she was my age, which felt really special.

 

Maybe if I was reading it for the first time now, I would hate it too, who knows, you may well be right about it. Thanks for your thoughts.

 

(I confess, I don't even have a clue what war it was that "Papa" went away to fight in!)

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Was it the American Civil War? whenever that was!

 

I tried watching an adaptation of it recently, a BBC one from the 70s I would guess, it was all wobbly sets and bad, bad accents.

 

Was Alcott the same author who wrote What Katy Did?

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Hazel, I'm sorry school spoilt Little Women for you. I haven't read Behind the Mask but shall do so now. There's nothing worse than reading a book with that cloud 'the best...whatever' hanging over it. I agree that parts are twee and unbelievable to us but referring back to a previous thread, I think it does make a difference to know something of Louisa May Alcott's background when reading Little Women as an adult. You probably already know that the story is based very much on her own family experiences. Her father was a liberal educationist and a dreamer who involved his family with an early commune and, from what I remember, more or less gave up supporting them in any useful way. This meant that Louisa and her sisters had to work at whatever they could to support the family. She eventually became a nurse and a suffragette as well as a writer. and the mother of her dead sister's child. I think it is a mistake to read Little Women as a sentimental novel without understanding the background. I do have her biography somewhere but can't find it to put the reference here - sorry about that.

 

I recently re-read it and enjoyed it just as much as when I was a child. I hope you will reconsider confining it to Room 101! What Katy Did was written by Susan Coolidge but that is a whole other story!

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Hi Hazel, thanks for explaining!

 

I wonder if it makes a difference if someone first read Little Women as a child or an adult.

 

Reading your comments made me realise that I have no sense at all of the quality of the writing in the book as a whole, it would never occur to me to wonder whether or not it should be thought of as a Great American Novel or not, and I have no idea whether Alcott wrote anything else worth reading, (other than the sequals to Little Women, of course!)

 

Its funny, but I had exactly this conversation with a colleague last Saturday (I will call her L for the sake of anonymity!). I showed her Hazel's post yesterday afternoon, and we had another discussion about it. We both thought that it probably is age related - L has never been able to get into it, whereas I have such fond memories of it from when I was a child. Something else that was interesting is that L has really enjoyed the TV and film adaptations - but she found the book quite tedious and laboured the points!

 

As to other things that LMA has written - I read "Eight Cousins" many times as a child - and another one, although I can't remember what it was called. I loved both of them - possibly more so than the "Little Women" series.

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Hazel 13th December 2005 04:27 PM

 

I think you are probably right that age has to do with it. I think I would have loved it as a child but just never read it then. I know alot about LMA's background, and do appreciate other works by her which made me read LW at long last - but I just didn't like it. I think it is very much of its time and as I am doing a lit degree I am apt to question plot and study style. But I would recommend her short story Behind A Mask which is fab, and is much tighter in terms of plot and style. I think LW's main fault is that it rambles for too long and there was no balance between the male and femal characters. I know LMA didn't have too high an opinion of her father but every male in this novel lacks depth.

 

It is true that when a novel is hailed "the great..." it is only bound to disappoint, but I really thought I would like LW as it has endured for so long. I guess I will settle on the fact that I am just not the type of female who will like it. That sounds awful, but you know what I mean!

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Claire 13th December 2005 08:01 PM

Can you suggest or say anything about any other novels she's read, Hazel? I'm rather intrigued!

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Hazel 14th December 2005 09:03 AM

Well The Chase is a goody too. It's actually odd because LMA wrote to make money for her family and found that thriller/sensation novels made her more money and though these were looked upon as a lesser genre, I think they are actually very well written. I think she wrote more of those kind than the Little Women variety but she wrote them under a different name because of how they were judged and it wasnt until Madeline Stern discovered the manuscripts in Harvard (I think) college archives and noted some small messages within the text that she realised they were the work of LMA. Behind A Mask itself can also be read as a metaphor for how LMA had to disguise her work under a pseudoynm. That makes it sound dreadfully dull, but trust me it is a fab read. You will find it completely different to LW.

 

Madeline Stern, wrote short account of her research into these stories and subsequent discovery of lost LMA work and collected it in a book with more of her short stories and they are all excellent. I don't know how to do that link thing but here is the page details at Amazon -

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos...7606522-1688434

 

I think you would really enjoy them and it is a fascinating story of how they were discovered, especially as whenever you mention LMA people automatically think of LW, but these stories show how talented and flexible she was.

 

I'll step off my soapbox now....

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Claire 14th December 2005 03:54 PM

Ooh, you've really whet my appetite to read some more of her books, Hazel. Thank you!

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Hazel 15th December 2005 09:13 AM

Originally Posted by Claire

Ooh, you've really whet my appetite to read some more of her books, Hazel. Thank you!

 

 

No problem - hope you enjoy them!

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Well, I have read this book as an adult and I loved it, as well. I think it depends whether you are interested in this kind of time (or place) at all or what you might think about the whole family. I never had any sisters and maybe therefore I thought it was great

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page 3 of the original thread

 

megustaleer

17th August 2006 01:08 PM

 

I read Little Women last year, the first time I have done so. I am sure there is a thread somewhere that discusses it.

Yes there is...and you started it!

 

It was in Fiction pre 1900, but I have moved it to the CYA forum and merged it with the new thread, here.

Below are copies of the posts about Little Women in the 'Books From Our Childhoods' thread, (with spoiler tags added. ;) )

18/02/05

Originally Posted by Seraphina

....my friend SWORE that

Beth died

in Little Women, I swore she didn't - my friend lent me her copy and I was mightily upset to find that fact had been 'left out' of my edition!!

 

26/04/06 Originally Posted by katrina

I probably have never read the full version of Little Women, oliver Twist of Lorna Doone. I do remember being confused when Friends was on and they discussed

Beth dying

I just thought I'd somehow forgotten that that had happened - maybe that it never did in my copy.

 

 

Originally Posted by Seraphina

And about the

Beth dying bit - I was sure she did in my friend's version but there is a thread elsewhere on this forum that claims she died in Good Wives, not in Little Women...that's not the way I remember it, but I wasn't sure enough to put in my tuppence worth...thing is I remember Beth's death, but I don't think I've read Good Wives. :confused:

 

 

Originally Posted by megustaleer

Last paragraph of 'Little Women':

"So grouped, the curtain falls upon Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. Whether it ever rises again, depends upon the reception given to the first act of the domestic drama called 'Little Women'."

 

 

As far as I can remember that part of the plot of Good Wives, Jo forfeits her chance to go to Europe with Aunt March, and Amy goes in her stead. Laurie is over doing The Grand Tour when Beth dies, and he is sent to tell Amy.

That is the start of the romance between Amy and Laurie.

 

 

I think you are all getting confused about the illness (diphtheria?) that Beth catches from the Hummel's baby which died in her arms. Marmee is away visiting their father who is ill, so the girls are alone (apart from Hannah). Beth nearly dies, but comes through 'the crisis' just hours before Marmee gets home.

 

Originally Posted by Seraphina

Now I'm REALLY confused, because all the stuff in your spoiler is familiar to me Meg, but I was sure it was in Little Women. Possibly I've read an edition where Little Women and Good Wives are together in one book and just not remembered that they were separate novels. That's the only explanation I can think of!

 

 

Originally Posted by Momo

Don't be confused! You've already found the answer. I had this discussion with an American friend a while ago when we were talking about an episode in Friends when Joey and Rachel swap their favourite books and then reveal the endings to each other without a spoiler tag. :D

 

Rachel tells Joey that Beth dies.

 

 

Anyway, I said something to my friend like "How can they be so stupid, that's not in Little Women it's in Good Wives!" And she said "No, no, it's in Little Women, I'm sure, I've never read another of her novels." Anyway, even though Louisa May Alcott wrote the two novels in two consecutive years, in the States they seem to publish them in one novel and just give it the title of the first one. Maybe you read an American edition. Or there might have been one in the UK.

Oh, and I'm pretty sure the illness was Scarlet Fever, if I'm not mistaken.

 

Originally Posted by Megustaleer

That rings a bell, I think you're right!

27/04/06

 

Momo

17th August 2006 03:19 PM

 

Thanks, Meg. I thought I'd seen (and even posted about this book). Used the "search" engine and it didn't come up. Really bizarre.

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Hazel

17th August 2006 03:35 PM

 

Thanks Meg, I KNEW there was a thread somewhere that at least discussed the 'pickled limes' - thanks for that!

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megustaleer

17th August 2006 05:34 PM

 

Originally Posted by Momo

Thanks, Meg. I thought I'd seen (and even posted about this book). Used the "search" engine and it didn't come up. Really bizarre.

I don't get on with the 'search' function, so go straight to 'Advanced Search'.

 

Mind you, that's not always much help. For example; having entered 'Little Women I was presented with all posts containing the words 'little' and 'women' (there's a lot of them)! Tried again with 'Louisa May Alcott', and it came up with the goods!

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Flingo

17th August 2006 10:14 PM

 

Great moderating, as usual, Meg.

 

And a small search tip. You can use inverted commas around words to force the search engine to look for words appearing together. In this case, putting "Little Women" into even the basic search tool it should find this thread, and others which refer to the book, film or tv series.

 

I don't think I ever search anywhere without inverted commas these days - they work a treat in google as well!

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Momo

17th August 2006 10:18 PM

 

I had searched with Alcott, hoping that "Louisa May Alcott" and "Alcott, Louisa May" would come up. Had also checked under "Children's books" but to no avail!

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megustaleer

7th December 2006 10:36 AM

 

In spite of loving this book for so many years, and Jo,with her literary ambitions, being my favourite character, I have never been tempted to read the inspiration for the girls' secret society "The Pickwick Club".

 

As 'The Pickwick Papers' is currently being dramatised on BBC7, I decided that I would take the opportunity, by listening to it, to at least get some flavour of the book that inspired them.

 

It has come as quite a shock to me to realise that Dickens had first published "The Pickwick Papers" less than 25 years before the date at which Little Women was set. indeed that Dickens was still alive, and had not yet made his second reading tour of America.

Rather than being revered literary history, the works of Dickens were part of the popular fiction of the day!

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megustaleer

7th December 2006 11:08 AM

 

I have wasted about an hour on Google looking for those blessed pickled limes! One site assures us that 'sour and salty' was as popular in the 1860s, as high fats and sugars are now. I was unable to connect to a site that claimed to have an authentic recipe for Amy's pickled limes, but another traces the popularity of Key limes back to that period, and I did find one that has a slightly later West Indian recipe for them:

 

 

"Pickled Limes.--Make a brine strong enough to float an egg; stick your limes on two sides with a silver fork; then put them in the brine with a weight on the limes to keep them well under the brine; let them stand in a warm place for a week; they are then fit to eat. You can add some red peppers to the brine.--West India Woman"

---"Receipts," New York Times, August 7, 1881 (p. 9)

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megustaleer

9th December 2006 10:39 AM

 

Has anyone read March by Geradine Brooks?

I never thought much about Mr. March. Perhaps the notion of an absent father and an all-female household resonated with an era when emotionally remote men went off to work and joined the family only intermittently, on weekends. Or perhaps it was just that this was almost entirely (and delightfully) a world in which males didn't yet count for much, which is certainly the way I felt before the age of 12.....

...In MARCH, Geraldine Brooks redresses the balance, giving us a sensitive chaplain from Concord, Massachusetts, who volunteers for the Union cause and finds himself caught in the bitter carnage and wrecked ideals of the Civil War, finally ending up in a military hospital, whence Marmee (as readers of LITTLE WOMEN will remember) is summoned to nurse him back to life. In flashbacks, we learn the details of March's earlier life...

(extract from this review )

 

I don't think it's a CYA book.

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Flingo

10th December 2006 03:30 PM

 

 

It's not a CYA book - and wasn't it on a Richard and Judy list at some point?

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megustaleer

10th December 2006 09:22 PM

 

Originally Posted by Flingo

It's not a CYA book - and wasn't it on a Richard and Judy list at some point?

No idea, I don't take much notice of the R&J promos.

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I am currently reading March, and will in due course post about it in the appropriate thread, but I have a question for readers of Little Women etc.

 

What did you make of the name, Marmee, that the girls called their mother?

 

In March it is explained as a childhood nickname, based on her Christian names (as invented by Geraldine Brooks, author of March)

 

I can remember being rather puzzled by it as a child, but an obvious explanation occuring to me when i read it as an adult.

 

So, what do other Little Women fans think?

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I'd always assumed it was a version of Mum, or Mummy, but with a strong American accent - it hadn't occurred to me that there was anything unusual about the name, or that it might be a nickname. I would have guessed that all American girls from that time and place used a similar name for their mothers.

 

I'm intrigued now!

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