Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Little Women Letters by Gabrielle Donnelly

Reading seems to be the only way for me to escape these days.  I picked up this book because the premise was interesting but to be quite frank, it ended up falling flat for me.

In this novel by Gabrielle Donelly, the Little Women that we all know and love aren't the main characters per se: they are the foremothers to the main characters in the novel. Emma, Lulu and Sophie are sisters and their great-great- grandmother is Jo March. Of course, her sisters are Amy, Meg and Beth. Emma, the oldest, is smart (but not brilliant), has a settled career and is soon to be married.  Lulu is brilliant but less settled - she doesn't have a job even though she graduated at the top of her class with a science degree (chemistry I think) and on the romance front she doesn't appear to have many prospects either.  Sophie is the youngest and a flighty actress.  They live in London - their American mother and English father also live in London in a house where Lulu finds old letters to and from Jo March in the attic.

I loved Little Women - it was a fantastic book and I absolutely loved reading it. Of course, Jo was inspirational and Beth and her short life were sad.  So I was really hopeful that this book would pan out. But it fell flat. I didn't find the premise or the characters or anything about the novel original. It was as if Donelly had taken Little Women and tried to adapt it to modern London.  The characters were so obviously modern day versions of the Little Women and the other characters in Alcott's novel. This annoyed me to no end - if you're going to do something like this then come up with something new. And because Donnelly seemed to be a creative and decent writer otherwise, I was even more disappointed in her inability to come up with a novel idea.

Pass on this one.

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