Four acclaimed female authors—including Pulitzer Prize winner Jane Smiley and In the Dream House author Carmen Carmen Maria Machado—reflect on their lifelong engagement with Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel of girlhood and growing up. Kate Bolick, Jenny Zhang, Carmen Maria Machado, and Jane Smiley explore their strong lifelong personal engagement with Alcott’s novel Little Women—what it has meant to them and why it still matters. Each takes her subject as one of the four March sisters, reflecting on their stories and what they can teach us about life.
Meg March by Kate Bolick: The New York Times–bestselling author of Spinster finds parallels in oldest sister Meg’s brush with glamour at the Moffats’ ball and her own complicated relationship with clothes.
Jo March by Jenny Zhang: The short story writer of Sour Heart confesses to liking Jo least among the sisters when she first read the novel as a girl, uncomfortable in finding so much of herself in a character she feared was too unfeminine.
Beth March by Carmen Maria Machado: The In the Dream House author writes about the real-life tragedy of Lizzie Alcott, the inspiration for third sister Beth, and the horror story that can result from not being the author of your own life's narrative. Amy March by Jane Smiley: The Pulitzer Prize–winning author of A Thousand Acres rehabilitates the reputation of youngest sister Amy, whom she sees as a modern feminist role model for those of us who are, well, not like the fiery Jo.
These four voices come together to form a deep, funny, far-ranging meditation on the power of great literature to shape our lives.