*If you are new here, WELCOME! For Little Women, I provide your book club with a brief summary, a recipe, and discussion questions in that order!
This post is the beginning of a new series of posts I have decided to create for Book Club Bites featuring The Classics. I’ve had Little Women on my re-read list for a while and with the new movie coming out this winter, I decided it was the perfect start for this series.
If you don’t know much about Louisa May Alcott, the author of Little Women, I suggest you take some time and read a little about her (even if it’s just her wikipedia page).
Louisa May Alcott led a fascinating life. She was raised by her parents among transcendentalists, including many famous thinkers of the time such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry David Thoreau, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
She grew up to be an abolitionist and a feminist. In fact, her family helped Frederick Douglass and others during their work in the underground railroad. Despite all of this adventure, Little Women is based on what Louisa held closest to her heart–her own sisters and her mother. Her three sisters inspired the characters Meg, Amy, and Beth, and Jo was based loosely upon her own life and character.
Although I read Little Women as a preteen and knew the basis of the story, rereading the book as an adult was a delight. The book is a classic and written for the post-Civil war era, so it isn’t a fast-paced, straight-line story like those we read today. That said, I found so much timeless wisdom in the book. From Meg’s conversations with Marmee after becoming a new mother, to Jo’s struggles as a writer, to Amy’s frustrations at wanting more without losing her character in exchange for wealth.
If your book club hasn’t read Little Women, or it’s been a while, I challenge you to consider this book for an upcoming read. It’s an easy read with themes of sisterhood, romance, and self realization that anyone is sure to love.
If you have read it recently or the classics just aren’t your thing, consider reading these modern takes on the March family instead. Meg & Jo just released in December 2019 and is a modern retelling focusing on two sisters, Meg and Jo. March follows the girls’ father as he departs for the Civil War and throughout his time away. The book won the Pulitzer. I have read this one and enjoyed the story, however, if you idolize the March family, Mr. March is portrayed as a very real man in this novel and may not live up to your ideal. The novel is based on Geraldine Brook’s extensive research into Louisa May Alcott’s own father.
If you do decide to read or re-read Little Women, I’ve provided book club questions and a delicious recipe for Little Women for your meeting, so if you are looking for food ideas and more, keep reading!
Here’s a brief summary of Little Women:
A classic tale of sisterhood, young love, and self-discovery, Little Women follows the four March sisters—Meg, Jo, Amy, and Beth—as they grow from young girls longing for their father to return from the Civil War into little women finding their own voices and ways in the world. Full of timeless truths and romance, this story about the strength of family as time passes has touched hearts for generations.
For the Little Women recipe:
If you’re looking for food ideas for Little Women, I have several options for you, including one recipe! There were many parties mentioned throughout the book. In Chapter 2, after giving their Christmas meal to a needy family, the girls’ generosity is return with a spread from the new neighbor–the Laurence boy. In Chapter 26, poor Amy tries and fails to throw a luxurious party for her flaky friends. In Chapter 28, Meg enters er… domestic bliss as she attempts to make currant jelly. And in Chapter 47, everyone gathers as a family to celebrate the apple harvest.
For the recipe featured here, I’ve decided to create apple turnovers from the very last scene in the book. I felt that it was a culmination of the girls’ happiness and I could imagine their sweet children indulging in these on a fall day. Besides, I just wanted to make them!
If apple turnovers aren’t your thing, or you’d like to make more food for your book club, here are a few more ideas for food:
- Ice Cream, Cake, and/or Bonbons (Chapter 2)
- Blanc Mange (Chapter 5)
- Pickled Limes (Chapter 7)
- Strawberries with Salt (Sugar) and Cream (Chapter 11) – From Jo’s failed luncheon
- Chicken (or Lobster) Salad (Chapter 26)
- Currant Jelly (Chapter 28) and crackers/cookies
And, if you still can’t find something on this list, check out this Little Women themed cookbook that’s sure to have a great option (or better yet, buy a copy for your amazing book club host to say thank you)!
These apple turnovers turned out delicious and f-f-f-laaaky. Using puff pastry really made these turnovers light as air and incredibly flaky. The granny smiths also gave the turnovers a slight tartness which balanced out the brown sugar and spices well. So, if your book club is looking for food ideas for Little Women, here is a great recipe!
Little Women Apple Turnovers
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2-3 granny smith apples
- ¾ cup light brown sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- 2 puff pastry sheets
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tbsp milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Peel, core, and chop the apples to ½ inch cubes.
- In a skillet melt the butter on medium heat.
- Add the apples and cook 3-4 minutes.
- Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg and cook an additional 3 minutes, stirring until the apples are coated and the sugar melts. Remove from heat.
- Cut one thawed puff pastry sheet into four squares.
- Add a heaping spoonful of the apple mix to each square, then fold the square over to create a triangle.
- Press the edges shut to seal. Use a fork to pinch the edges further.
- Cut a small hole into the top of the turnover to allow the turnover to breathe while cooking.
- Repeat with the second puff pastry sheet.
- Place turnovers on a greased baking sheet.
- Cook at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.
- Mix powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla together in a bowl.
- Allow the turnovers to cool completely.
- Drizzle mix generously over the cooled turnovers.
**Try to seal each turnover as well as possible to prevent the apple mix from leaking out.
***If your pastries puff too much, simply press them down lightly after they come out of the oven.
Little Women Book Club Questions:
*WARNING: May contain spoilers!
- When you first began the book, which of the March sisters was your favorite? By the end of the book, did this change? Why?
- The March family is poor. For Meg, this often results in jealousy. For Jo, this results in industriousness. For Amy, this results in ambition. Talk a little about the events these three characters endured because of their poverty. For example, Meg’s jealousy when she spends two weeks with the Moffats, Jo’s decision to cut off her hair, and Amy’s attempt at throwing a grand party for her friends.
- During the first part of the book, Alcott often includes long passages of plays or writings from the girls. Did you enjoy this or did it slow the book down for you? Did this remind you of your own childhood?
- When Meg catches the eye of John, Jo is not happy. She wants things to remain the same in her world and Meg falling in love will set things askew. Talk about this transition that often happens in families when the first child falls in love. How do you think it changed the March family?
- In Chapter 4, Alcott writes “There are many Beths in the world, shy and quiet, sitting in corners till needed, and living for others so cheerfully that no one sees the sacrifices till the little cricket on the hearth stops chirping, and the sweet sunshiny presence vanishes, leaving silence and shadow behind.” In what ways do you think Beth influenced each of the March sisters? Why do you think Jo was so deeply connected to Beth?
- Amy sets Jo’s beloved book on fire after Jo refuses to take Amy to the theater. This scene is often highlighted in the film versions, but in the book, the two forgive one another easily. Do you think Alcott meant to pit the two sisters against each other in the same way Hollywood has?
- In addition, Hollywood likes to portray a love triangle between Jo, Amy, and Laurie in the later years. Do you think this was Alcott’s intention? How did you feel the book rang true or false to that idea?
- Why do you think that Jo could never love Laurie in a romantic sense? Do you think she was right? Do you feel he and Amy are a better match? Why or why not?
- Ultimately Jo finds her happiness. Did you feel as though the life Alcott chose for Jo fit her? Why or why not? How did the Professor stir things in Jo’s heart in a way that Laurie couldn’t?
- Discuss the characters outside of the four March sisters. Who was your favorite? Aunt March, Marmee, Laurie, Mr. Laurence, Hannah, the Professor, etc.?
Have you read Little Women? What did you think? Is it one of your favorites or is it too old fashioned? What are some other classics you’ve read and loved?
Until next time, Happy Reading!
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