Tuesday, August 8, 2017

A Little News on Little Women

This morning on my Facebook feed, a terrible piece of clickbait appeared before me. The link to a post from Book Riot claimed that Beth doesn't always die in Little Women. I fell for it.

The article recounts a story from a bookstore customer who was reading the classic with her daughter, and she had warned her daughter about a very sad part in the story, but when they finished the book, the daughter didn't know what her mom had been talking about. Yes, Beth had gotten scarlet fever, but she recovered. And then all this other good stuff happened too, like Amy developing a bond with their cranky Great Aunt March, and Meg getting married, and Jo getting a story published.  .  .what sad part?

Yay, she's all better!

And the poor confused mother was left wondering, why didn't Beth die in this version?

Well, the answer is actually very simple and has more to do with the history of children's book publishing rather than the author's original intentions. The book we now know as simply "Little Women" was published in two volumes originally: the first in 1868 as Little Women: Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. The Story of Their Lives. A Girl's Book. 

Alcott wrote the second volume, titled Good Wives, following the success of the previous book. Her young readers were writing to her in droves, begging her to answer their questions about the fates of the four sisters, mostly, whether Jo and Laurie ever got married. So in 1869, readers were able to find out what happened to the March girls as they grew up. The second volume contains Beth's demise.

I think most book publishers reprint both volumes into one book with the abbreviated title Little Women, because most readers are going to want the entire story of the March family. However, it's certainly possible that some publishers choose to only publish the 'true' Little Women, meaning just the original volume. This is what led to the mother's confusion.

I'm glad that I fell for the clickbait though- it inspired me to blog, and I was overdue for a Little Women related post.

Speaking of which, here's a brief update on the two upcoming movie adaptations:

PBS Masterpiece Theater: Emily Watson is leading the cast as Marmee. Watson is an accomplished actress, with previous roles in Angela's Ashes and The Book Thief, among many others. I think she'll make a good Marmee. Also, Angela Lansbury is playing Great Aunt March. Even though the girls playing the daughters are young ingenues, with two strong actresses playing the older roles, I have high hopes for this adaptation.

Little Women, a Modern Movie: I feel like the reason this adaptation is modern is because they did not want to compete with the 1994 film. That's a wise choice I think, because that film has alot of loyalty. I don't have a problem with modern re-tellings of classic stories; in fact, I love them! After all, Clueless is a modern retelling of Jane Austen's Emma, and Bridget Jones' Diary is a modern retelling of the same author's Pride and Prejudice. And obviously, the 1996 Romeo and Juliet was very modern, even though Shakesperean dialogue was used.

And I have read a modern retelling of Little Women, titled The Little Women, by Katherine Weber. It took a bit of getting used to, but it wasn't bad. I don't think the movie will be based on that book though.

There's not a whole lot of info on this movie yet; the IMDB page is pretty sparse. The official Facebook page has photos of the actors and behind-the-scenes shots of the sets though. This seems to be the only photo that is from the film. It looks to me like it's depicting Chapter Two,  "A Merry Christmas".

I don't know of a release date yet, but the IMDB page says it's 2017, so we'll see. I guess I got my Little Women fix for a while.

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