Happy 150th, Jo March! (and a giveaway)

September 23rd, 2018

Ladies and gentlemen, today’s word is “sesquicentennial.” Isn’t that a terrific word? It really rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?

Next Sunday, September 30, 2018, marks the 150th anniversary — the sesquicentennial — of the publication of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women.

I doubt she could have foreseen her book’s enduring popularity, or have guessed that her story of four young women coming of age in the aftermath of the Civil War would one day be considered a classic — reprinted countless times with countless covers, adapted for film somewhere around a dozen times already, with not one but two more movies heading to the screen shortly.

Nor could she possibly have known the impact that her book, and in particular the character of Jo March, would have on generations of aspiring young writers.

I was one of them.

I spent seven formative years of my childhood and young adulthood in Concord, Massachusetts, the small New England town where Louisa lived when she wrote Little Women.

I used to save my babysitting money (I earned a whopping 25 cents an hour back then!) and ride my bike the mile to her home — which is called Orchard House — and treat myself to the tour. The ladies who led the tours were always so nice to me, and if they thought it was weird that I was there all by myself, they didn’t say so.

Orchard House

It’s a wonderful old historic house, filled with treasures from the Alcott family, which is easy to mix up with the March family, her fictional characters, because so much of the book was inspired by her own life, and her own family. Anyway, I remember just standing there staring at the little half-moon desk that her father had made her, and thinking, “Wow, that’s where she sat when she was writing Little Women,” and thinking that maybe I would have a writing desk of my own one day.

I desperately wanted to be a writer just like Jo March, Louisa’s headstrong fictional alter-ego, even back then.

And now, here I am, lo these many years later, and I do have a writing desk of my own, just like Louisa did, and my dream of being a writer did come true, and there are books with my name on them sitting on shelves in bookstores and libraries and actual readers’ homes across the country and beyond! And I have Louisa to thank for it.

I did thank her, in the only way I knew how — by honoring her in a book. The Mother-Daughter Book Club is my homage to Louisa and her Jo. It’s the tale of a group of middle-school girls in Concord, Massachusetts, whose mothers force them to join a book club and read Little Women. They soon discover how timeless the book’s themes are, and are surprised to find so many echoes of the March sisters and their trials and triumphs in their own lives.

So happy sesquicentennial, Little Women! I fully expect you to be around for at least another 150 years!

To celebrate this remarkable milestone, I think we need to have a giveaway, don’t you? I have a complete boxed set of all seven books in the Mother-Daughter Book Club series that I’ll be happy to autograph and send to one of you! Just leave a comment below, letting us know your connection to Little Women, and the impact it’s made on your life. If you haven’t read it yet, that’s OK, you can just leave a post telling us that you plan to (we’ll hold you to it!).

The winner will be chosen at random at midnight on the September 30, 2018, the 150th anniversary of the publication of Little Women! Share this giveaway on your blog or Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest or other social media for additional entries. (If you share on social media, please leave a link in the comments so that I can assign you an extra entry.)  U.S. and Canada only, please. Have fun!

 

 

44 Responses to “Happy 150th, Jo March! (and a giveaway)”

  1. Olivia Mason says:

    Little Women was the book that gave me a vision of what kind of woman I wanted to grow to be. I wanted to be brave like Jo, gentle like Meg, close to God like Beth, and not afraid to get what I want like Amy. This book showed me what it means to be a girl and it’s one of the books I have built myself on.

  2. Oh, my, where to begin? I received a beautiful hardcover copy of Little Women and two Madame Alexander dolls (Beth and Amy) for my eighth Christmas. I read and re-read the book and played with my dolls a lot; I eventually acquired the entire set. When I read Little Men I loved it too (I’m a sucker for sequels!) Over the years I’ve watched the movies and taken a wonderful New England trip with my family, which of course included a very special trip to Orchard House! And finally, but certainly not least, when I came across a book at my local library called The Mother-Daughter Book Club, I checked it out, loved it, and discovered a great series.(Bought all those and read them a lot, too!) So, I guess I really do have a lifelong connection with the Alcotts! Happy Anniversary, Louisa!

  3. Ivan Shellenbarger says:

    Louisa proved how writing about “ordinary life” not melodrama or heroics, can make a moving and memorable read. Actually, she has Jo discover this in LW. She led the way to ANNE OF GREEN GABLES, BETSY-TACY and the like, and eventually to MOTHER-DAUGHTER BOOK CLUB and VANDERBEEKERS (A great new series by Karina Yan Glaser). I feel little women paved the way for much of my favorite fiction.

    Ivan

  4. Jaslyn says:

    Hello there!! 😀

    Little Women is one of my favourite books. I first read an abridged version when I was eight or nine, and have read it tons of times since (the original, not the abridged, though to be honest I don’t enjoy the sequels half as much as I do the first book). All the March sisters are very close to my heart, and every one of them represent something that I strive to become. Jo inspires me to pursue writing with passion and determination. Meg inspires me to see the beauty in ordinary things. Beth inspires me to be kinder to everyone around me. And Amy inspires me to be both fiercely loyal, and to learn from my mistakes. Little Women has claimed a special little corner in my heart, and I don’t doubt that I’ll read it again and again in the future 🙂

    (My twitter is @96xyy and my pinterest is @c0nst3ll8! I shared this post on both platforms as well.)

  5. Kalyn OByrne says:

    I have not read Little Women yet but I plan too! About 6 years ago my family was in Massachusetts and because of the MDBC books I had to go visit Louisa’s house!! And we did and I had a great time and I loved it!

  6. Jennifer D says:

    Love it! I had a beautiful hardbound copy that I read many times growing up

  7. Dana Q says:

    Dear Heather Vogel Frederick,
    I have not read Little Women yet, but I plan to. If it means signed Mother-Daughter Book Club books, I’ll do practically anything! Even if Little Women hasn’t left in impact on me, since I’ve never read it, The Mother-Daughter Book Club series definitely has! I love the adventures of Emma, Jess, Cassidy, Megan, and Becca, and I will never forget your books.
    -Dana Q

  8. Ashley Harshaw says:

    I love these books! My parents read all of them to me when I was a little kid!

  9. Jo says:

    My name is Jo so everyone has always connected me with Jo March! I love her!

  10. Bailey H says:

    When I was a little kid I read the abridged version of little women which wasn’t all that impressive along with the movie novelization. When I was about thirteen though I saw a beautiful hardback cover that was unabridged that I brought. I had just had a hard time breaking things up with my best friend. I read the book during the summer on the porch swing with my pet beagle and I like to say, little woman was my best friend that year. Today my friend and I back together and little women is one of my favorite books, along with the mother daughter book club books

  11. Teresa Gibson says:

    I remember opening a gift on Christmas Day when I was 10 years old and found Little Women. It was by far the longest book i’d ever seen or read. It was challenging, uplifting, sweet, unforgettable, and a dear friend all these years. I also was privileged to visit Orchard House and much of it was exactly as i’d imagined. Truly one of America’s greatest books.

  12. Bailey Haney says:

    When I first read little woman it was an abridged copy that wasn’t very good. I also read the movie novelization which still wasn’t the same. Then I found a beautiful hardcover edition which was unabridged and I brought it and read it on my porch swing almost every day with my pet beagle.
    I read it during the summer that my best friend and I were coming apart and I like to say that little women was my best friend during that year.
    Now this year my friend and I are back together and little women is one of my favorite books. Along with the mother daughter book club of course (:

  13. Jahnvi says:

    Little Women is one of my favorite books of all time. Although it is set in the past, I was able to relate to and imagine everything in the book. I think everyone who reads the book will see a little bit of themselves in Jo, Meg, Beth, and Amy. The characters also have motivated me to be more like them. Little Women is the book that got me interested classics and it is has shaped me as a reader and person.

  14. Ruth McGregor says:

    I sheepishly admit that I have reached Grandmother age without ever reading Little Women! I own it and have good intentions, etc.! I got the MDBC books for the oldest two grands and it will be fun to eventually introduce the youngest granddaughter to them. I love them myself!

  15. Barbara McDiarmid says:

    I remember reading Little Women for the first time. The library book was huge and almost too heavy to hold up as I lay in bed reading, but I couldn’t put it down. The enduring impact in my life from reading Little Women, has been my naming my daughter Daisy, just as Meg named her daughter.

  16. Susan Stanfield says:

    Little Women is one of my very favorite books. I received the most beautifully illustrated copy of the book for Christmas when I was nine or ten (I still have it) and the next two years I got Little Men and Jo’s Boys in the same lush edition. I have already read all the MDBC, so if I win I want to pass them to my best friend’s niece. She reads all the time, but hasn’t shown much interest in the classics. I think the MDBC is a great way to introduce them to her.

  17. Janet Dawson says:

    My mother *strongly suggested* I read Louisa May Alcott books when I was growing up. I struggled through most of them, but didn’t really enjoy them. Then I tried Little Women again in college, and loved it! Have re-read it many times since then, but have never gone back to the other Alcott books…maybe someday.

    Full disclosure: I am commenting because I really want to win those books! I’m a K-8 librarian, overseeing four schools, and at least two of them (the 4-5 and 6-8) would greatly appreciate updated copies of The Mother-Daughter Book Club!

  18. Nancy Downing says:

    Hello-
    Because I am named Nancy, folks always expected I would love The Nancy Drew books but I *really* loved the Books by Louisa May Alcott. I received Little Women for Christmas when I was 10 and I have that battered copy on my bookshelves today. I still re-read it regularly, even more than 50 years later. This book always has something to say to me. Coming from a family with four daughters, all of whom were readers, we pretended we were the March sisters – we even put on home-grown plays like they did. Thanks for acknowledging this important book in your MDBC series…and today.

  19. Jennifer D-K says:

    I read and reread my mom’s copy of “Little Women” and then found a gorgeous version in a bookstore, with full-color illustrations…oh my! It was the first book I spent my own money on, and it seemed quite expensive at the time. But I still have it and still think it’s beautiful. I’m one of those weirdos who doesn’t idolize Jo; my favorite characters are Beth and Meg. (Anyone else? Anyone??) Loved your shout-out to Orchard House tours! I’ve taken that tour three or four times, and every time learn something new and amazing. Those guides do a wonderful job. Thanks for doing the giveaway! Fingers crossed!!

  20. Christine Ware says:

    My mother had a hardcover edition of LW with a beautiful illustration on the cover. I was always fascinated by the idea of having sisters, since I don’t have any.

  21. Jahnvi D says:

    Little Women is one of my favorite books of all time. Although it is set in the past, I was able to relate to and imagine everything in the book. I think everyone who reads the book will see a little bit of themselves in Jo, Meg, Beth, and Amy. The characters also have motivated me to be more like them. Little Women is the book that got me interested classics and it is has shaped me as a reader and person.

  22. Hazel Wagner says:

    I read Little Women at least twice as a young girl. I believe it was part of the reason I became an avid reader for life. I am now the proud grandmother of 3 girls (and 4 boys) and just recently my first great-granddaughter (already had 2 great grandsons). Thank you for the reminder. I will make sure all these girls have copies of Little Women, even the baby. And I will introduce them to the mother-daughter book club.

  23. Ebie says:

    I LOVED Little Women as a child. The best part was picking apart the movies because the books were so much better!

  24. Meghna says:

    Little Women is my designated happy book. When everything else in life seems too overwhelming, pulling out my beat-up copy of Little Women and opening to a random page always makes me feel better. When I was younger, Jo March was my idol, and although I’ve grown a bit since then her verve and tenacity always reminds me of what I loved about her as a little girl. There are very few books that have been published in recent years that have characters and settings as warm and comforting as Little Women, so I don’t anticipate its place in my life changing anytime soon:)

  25. Betsy Jones says:

    My grandmother’s bookshelves were a treasure trove of books — ones she had read and ones that my mother and aunt had read. Among those were Grosset & Dunlap editions of Little Women and all of LMA’s wonderful titles. I loved getting lost in the worlds she created, and Beth was my favorite of the four sisters. Besides being wonderful books, they are also a lovely connection between me and my grandmother. I have never been to Massachusetts, but she did and brought back souvenirs for me from Orchard House. Bliss!

  26. Susan Wagenhals says:

    I own many copies of Little Women but my favorite, by far, is the 1925 edition given to me by my Great Aunt Clara on my 8th birthday. Her handwritten inscription says “every girl should read this book”. It is one of the first thick books (with chapters!) that I read on my own. I was born with flaming red hair but always wanted chestnut brown hair like Jo.

  27. Colleen Ann Sullivan says:

    I have my hard cover copy that I received for Christmas 1961. I have read it often and treasured it always. One of my favorite memories of Little Women is when my 5 year old youngest sister would sit in the living room chair, holding our Siamese cat in her lap reading my book! We shared all our books and she still is quite the reader!!

  28. Sue Siebel says:

    As an only child, Little Women gave me a peek into the world of siblings! As so many others, I loved it and read and re-read it.

  29. Hi Heather, posted this on my Facebook page and shared it on two other pages facebook pages I am admin for. Love “Little Women” and Louisa May Alcott. Enjoy sharing it now with my granddaughters. 🙂

  30. Elizabeth Norton says:

    My grandma was a great reader who went blind. In the age before the proliferation of audiobooks and library services for the visually impaired, I became her audiobook. One of my chores was to read to her every day after school. Little Women was one of the last books we read together before she passed away when I was fourteen. To this day that book reminds me of the warmth of her lap (I was never too big to be rocked) as we snugggled together in the big rocking chair in the sunny front window of her house. Rereading it always makes me feel close to her.

  31. Susie Welsh says:

    My visit to Orchard House incited my love of literary tours — including Mankato and LIW sites 🙂

    Sisterhood is my favorite part of Little Women – that and striving to be good, to love art, and to love others.

  32. Laurie Zaepfel says:

    I’ve known “Little Women” through other means, mostly–the movie with Winona Ryder, mentions in Betsy-Tacy, of course the MDBC girls reading it in Heather’s lovely novel, and one of my daughters reading parts of it at school. We had a lovely visit at Orchard House on a visit to Concord, and I think it’s a mainstay of American literature.

  33. Julie Schrader says:

    Hi Heather, I’ve shared this on my facebook page as well as two other facebook pages I’m admin for. I love Little Women and Louisa May Alcott and now am happily enjoying this book with my granddaughters. 🙂

  34. Barbara zagrodnik says:

    Some books just open your eyes to different times, customs, and habits but sharply remind you of the feelings, dreams, and hopes of girls everywhere. This is Little Women.

  35. Marlena Boggs says:

    My mother introduced Little Women to each of her girls when we were young—her name is Jo and she related to Jo March. I thinkmy sisters and I admired Jo March and my mother and have tried to be as strong and dynamic as they are!. A favorite memory is sitting at the old family home, Quaker Hill, and reading the books by Louisa May Alcott in the attic which my grandmother had set up as a comfortable place for us to play and read. Another favorite memory is that of visiting Orchard House with my sister and now her two daughters.

  36. Kimberly Zhang says:

    I first read little women when I was pretty young- around 8 years old. Jo is definitely my favorite character, because I relate to her so much. The book just kept surprising me at every twist and turn, and kept me hooked until the last page. I liked the book so much that I re read it again and did a book project on it in fifth grade, and this book has stuck with me ever since.

  37. Maria Marabito says:

    I don’t know why I first picked up Little Women, but as soon as I read it, I fell in love with the story and the characters. It made me feel like there could be an adventure waiting in my small town and that I, a shy young girl, could be as brave as Jo. Jo propelled my dream to become a published author someday and it is a dream I still hold today. I try and reread the book every now and then since it still puts a smile on my face.

  38. Kathy Havins says:

    My mom loved Little Women and introduced me to the books when I was 10. I loved them, too. I introduced them to my daughter when she was 10 and she’s now counting the days until her 6 year is 10.

    Jo remains my favorite sister all these years later.

    A Bucket List item for us is to visit LMA’s home.

  39. Julia James says:

    I haven’t read Little Women yet, but I plan to in the future. The 150th anniversary seems like just the right excuse to do that!

  40. The Literary Enthusiast says:

    I’m a big fan of classics and I’ve been meaning to read Little Women for years. I’m most interested in it because I enjoy stories about everyday life and growing up and I heard Louisa May Alcott does that really well.

  41. Linda says:

    I first read Little Women when I was a kid and fell in love with the story. I’ve read almost all of Alcott’s books and short stories now.

  42. Chloe W. says:

    Oh! It made me so happy to see this pop up in my email because I just arrived home from my very first trip to New England, where I finally got to see Orchard House!

    Little Women is a very important book for me because it taught me at a young age the importance of having a support group of women with different interests and desires to encourage one another! In honor of my trip, I have been re-reading it and I am reminded also of just how relatable the sisters are, even with my twenty-first-century teenager mindset!

  43. Kalyn says:

    I already commented once but I shared it on my facebook, twitter, and pinterest. I tried to out the links here! I am rereading the whole series and its bringing back so many memories from when I read it when I was younger!

    https://www.facebook.com/kalyn.obyrne.7?hc_ref=ARTeLCqxBCX953zj200qhkkD-UREJvQTgJqY5tqCSVMVhd8WBXNhBQ49ye89oho1MF8

    https://twitter.com/KalynOByrne/status/1046474638019067905

    https://www.pinterest.com/pin/469570698643625766/

  44. Phyllis Popplewell says:

    I read a reference to Little Women at age 10 or so in Shirley Jackson’s comic Life Among The Savages, wherein her daughter Jannie is reading it and weeping at Beth’s demise. It was only then that I read it for the first time because I loved tragic stories. Still love Shirley Jackson and still love Louisa May Alcott.

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