This morning I started thinking about my own Mother's favorite childhood book, and remembered it was "Little Women." How perfect to write about it today, Mother's Day, because Little Women had one of the best "mother characters" ever!
Little Women was written by Louisa May Alcott, and published in two volumes in 1868 and 1869. The setting is Concord, Massachusetts, during the Civil War, and follows the lives of four March sisters – Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March - and their mother, whom they call "Marmee". Marmee is head of the household, as Mr. March is a chaplain in the Union Army, and rarely at home.
Little Women is a coming-of-age story about family love, loss, and struggle. The young woman at its center, Josephine, or "Jo" March, is outspoken, brave, and a tomboy at heart. She is a dreamer and a writer (sound familiar?), and happiest in the attic, reading or writing stories and plays. She loves to write, direct and star in flamboyant dramas. To use a modern-day term, she's a teenage drama queen!
Margaret "Meg" March is sixteen and the oldest sister. She is the beauty of the March family, and she is genteel and well-mannered. Meg runs the household when her mother is absent.
Elizabeth "Beth" March is thirteen years old when the novel opens. Beth is a sensitive, quiet, and kind girl, but her health is precarious, and the other girls protect and nurse her when she becomes seriously ill.
Amy, the youngest sister, is twelve when the story begins. Amy is the artist in the family. She is somewhat spoiled, and more than a little vain (she sleeps with a close peg clamped on her nose!).
My favorite character is Abigail March, the girls' mother, whom they all call Marmee. She fills her time with charity work, but her main occupation is guiding her girls' morals, and shaping their characters. Marmee is kind, wise, graceful and dignified (she never loses her temper), but she is also warm, loving and gracious. But, what I really love about Marmee is how she gives her unconditional love and support to her girls. She is deeply spiritual, and teaches her girls how to survive in a particularly harsh time for their family.
I highly recommend this lovely, beautifully written book. When you read Little Women, whether it's for the first time, or if you are re-visiting it, pay particular attention to the character of Marmee. She is a mother to whom we can all aspire!
Happy Mother's Day!