Do You Love Louisa May Alcott because of Little Women? I Don’t.

Today is Louisa May Alcott’s birthday. When we think of LMA, we think of Little Women. Well, that’s what you think about, anyway. I think of A Long Fatal Love Chase. Here’s a confession:

I have never read Little Women.

I saw the Winona Ryder movie and enjoyed it. I had about 500 panic attacks when whatsherface threw Jo’s manuscript into the fire. But I’ve never enjoyed the book. I’ve started it, stopped it, started it, stopped it, and finally admitted to myself that I just didn’t want to read it.

Then I discovered A Long Fatal Love Chase, the book she wrote two years before Little Women was released. I love Gothic fiction, and this is Gothic suspense in all its glory. Alcott tried to get the book published, but it was rejected again and again for its sensationalism. It wasn’t published until 1995, more than 100  years after Alcott’s death.

When you move in a literary world, it’s tough to admit that you’ve never read a classic staple of American literature like Little Women. But if there’s something to be taken away from my adversity to Little Women and my love for A Long Fatal Love Chase, it’s this:

  • You don’t have to like a book just because a lot of people say you’re supposed to.
  • Writers have many faces. They can write a sisterly coming of age novel, and they can also write books that begin with:

“I shall do something desperate if this life is not changed soon … I often feel as if I’d gladly sell my soul to Satan for a year of freedom.” … The girl glanced despairingly about the dreary room like a caged creature on the point of breaking loose. Books lined the walls, loaded the tables and lay piled about the weird, withered old man who was her sole companion.

Happy birthday, Louisa May!

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