In this busy week during which I have realized some new and exciting challenges in my life (all good, all good), I also found myself power reading my Book Club’s March selection, Little Women. Not surprisingly, the busy-ness of the week and the stupor in which I found myself after completing the eternally long biography, Edgar A. Poe: A Mournful and Neverending Remembrance (which I’d been reading since January), I miscalculated the number of pages per day I’d have to read of LW in order to have it completed for today’s meeting. Starting on Monday, and allowing four days for reading, I calculated that I’d need to read 170 pages per day to get through the book’s 775 pages. Whether or not you’re on the ball mathematically, the calculator in your head is probably exuding smoke and making strange pinging noises right about now, because, alas, 170 times 4 is only…680: 95 pages short of the end of the book.
It reminds me of the time I was reading Steinbeck’s mammoth East of Eden and realized somewhere in the 600’s that the book was 900 pages long, not 700 as I had thought. Like a blind man whose sense of hearing has taken over, so are the halves of my brain.
So, even though I’m shy of the finish line, and even though I have left my book at the home in which we met, still, I can say that I found Little Women thoroughly delightful and refreshing. Reading it as an adult, I’ve realized that it’s not a book for children or adults, but one for all ages. There are so many things about the March family that I hadn’t see back in 7th grade: Marmee confessed to a temper, Father was an army chaplain, Meg struggled to prioritize her husband, Jo was right to turn Laurie down, Beth made an incredible showing of accepting her terminal illness, and Amy didn’t exactly steal Laurie away. It’s funny—the characters are drawn in so much more relief for me now. I am reminded of my re-reading of Catcher in the Rye several years ago; as a married woman and mother, I realized that Holden Caulfield was kind of an irresponsible jerk and not exactly the relationship material that the teenage me had dreamed he might be.
In a reading year when I was practically knocked off my chair with the shockingly unsettling revelations in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I must say that it was a pleasure to have a truly rated G read. I’m wondering whether, if I lived there in my reading chair all the time, I would be a generally cheerier person. It’s hard to know, I think. Still, I’m thankful to have (almost) read Little Women, and I’m looking forward to finishing it…too bad it’s back on Jennifer’s coffee table. Oh well.
For those of you who may be interested, the next few months of Book Club selections stack up as follows: