Florence’s Book Club: Little Women and The Language of Flowers

This afternoon, we’re welcoming Rachel back to review her last Book Club choice, Little Women, with the option to also read the follow on book, Good Wives. I read both on holiday a couple of weeks ago and felt an overwhelming sense of nostalgia, them being two of my favourite books as a teen.

The thing I love about the Book Club though is the way hearing what somebody else felt when they read a book changes your perspective on it, even when it’s a classic you are familiar with already. For that reason, I loved Rachel’s review and think her choice for next month’s Book Club is perfect for Florence Finds – particularly as my thoughts turn to the garden with spring in the air and the romance that brings. I’ll let you judge for yourselves but please do join in and share your thoughts on Little Women and/or Good Wives, and let us know if you’ll be reading The Language of Flowers too. Don’t forget, all the book club titles are listed in Florence’s Amazon shop.

Little Women and Good Wives by L M Alcott

NB This review contains spoilers if you are yet to finish it.

I could write about how Little Women made me think about female friendships and how we’re drawn to stories surrounding them. (SATC anyone?) The different characters that make up our friendship groups. How we work as a friendship unit but within it some of us are closer to one friend, how we each bring out the best in each other and sometimes the calmest person gives strength to the loudest.

I could write about how I loved reading it in the run up, during and post Christmas. How it made me reflect on how we’re coming back to giving homemade gifts. We now relish making handmade gifts for our loved ones. There are wonderful passages about what they choose to make and give each other.

I could write about how I think I’m mainly Meg but with a little bit of Beth and Amy tossed in for good measure. (Though I do like my nose and would never dream of wearing a peg on it. Each time I read or think about Amy’s nose it makes me smile.)

Little Women

I could write about how I identified with Meg having completely planned what to say if Mr Brooke asked for hand in marriage. And when it came to it, it all went out the window.

I could write how it was good to read Good Wives in the New Year for New Year’s resolutions.

I could write about how I felt chastened reading about Meg’s desire and temptation for frippery landed her in financial trouble as I travelled on the tube to go sales shopping on the Kings Road.

I could write to all who are thinking about having a family, are pregnant or have a family that they must read the chapter ‘On the shelf’ to ensure their adult relationships remain strong with the arrival of the pitter patter of tiny feet.

I was all set to write about the heartache. About Laurie’s heartache. Let’s just say I missed my tube stop at the point where Jo refuses Laurie’s hand in marriage. I know, I know, of course Jo and Laurie shouldn’t be together but part of me will always feel that Jo and Laurie belong together. My heart kept saying – ‘Oh Jo why couldn’t you love Laurie?’ By the end of the book I’m just about convinced that they have all made the right matches.

And then…. The final chapter. Jo our strong willed, independent heroine, who breaks boundaries, lives by her heart and not society’s conventions sets up her own school. A school for boys. My head and heart scream – “What about the girls’ education?” I realise that even that is a step too far for Jo and L M Alcott to consider and feel thankful that I live in Britain in the 21st century.

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
I’m really excited about our next book. I’d been wanting to choose a more recent novel and it doesn’t get more recent than this one. It will be out in paperback on the 1st March. So read it first for Florence Finds.

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh is our next title for Florence Finds Book Club. I know very little about it apart from reading great reviews, hoping I’ll enjoy a good story and learn a little bit more about the language of flowers. What could be more perfect for a spring read? We’ll be reviewing this on 17th April.

Thanks Rachel!

Don’t forget, if you have a great read that you would like to suggest for Florence’s Book club (click for more info) then please just drop me a line on hello@florencefinds.com.


PS you can read more from Rachel at her blog Flowers and Stripes, or find her on Twitter @MrsHunterDunn.

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6 thoughts on “Florence’s Book Club: Little Women and The Language of Flowers

  1. I have to say, although I love Little Women, this time around I actually enjoyed Good Wives more. It got me through that ridiculous 12 hour delay in Turin airport anyway!

    I was completely gripped, waiting for all of them to have their happy ending and ever touched by a good moralistic story, found myself questioning my behaviour, could I be a little bit more kind day to day? I certainly thought about the definition of a ‘lady’ and how that applies still, even in modern life.

    Can’t wait for The Language of Flowers. After reading the review it’s not at all what I expected and looks very interesting and apparently soon to be a film.


  2. I adore Little Women/Good Wives. This time around I think I agree with Rebecca, for the first time I preferred Good Wives. I wonder if this is because I’m growing up now, moving more into that stage of my life, no longer putting on plays in the attic. Because it’s easier as an adult to identify with the more adult problems, the heartache and the troubles of building a relationship. This time around I could see why Jo and Laurie shouldn’t be together, when as a teenager I railed for days that they should have got married.

    As a child, this was I think the first time I ever actually mourned a character in a book. Going back, that page is still crinkly from my tears. And now it’s crinklier, from the new tears. Why does it not get less sad when you know it’s coming? And yet it always makes me remember, through the tears, that I should be kinder, and live my life fuller.

    Looking forward to The Language of Flowers, have pre-ordered my paperback copy (got to love birthday Amazon vouchers)

    K x

  3. Some of my favourite books ever! I used to read these over and over as a child. Thank you for reminding me that I should read them again now, especially interested in Good Wives (and even the others, Little Men etc) to see how they fare from my more grown up perspective 🙂

  4. So sorry I didn’t get to comment yesterday, I had a manic day at work!! Loved loved loved these books as a child and really enjoyed coming back to them as an adult. Beth’s story never ceases to bring tears to my eyes and I so love the story of how Amy and Laurie end up together (I seem to be the only person who doesn’t think Jo and Laurie should have ended up together!)

    On a different but related note, has anyone read ‘March’ by Geraldine Brooks?? It’s the story of Mr March (the girls’ father) before the time of ‘Little Women’ and his time in the army during the war. Really fascinating stuff.

  5. I randomly read this over Christmas so had to pop on and give my two penneth! I first read it as a young teenager and to be honest I think it suffered on a re-reading. I found the tone veered towards preachy at times and found the authors treatment of Jo particularly harsh. Jo is made to feel ashamed of her success as a writer and puts her literary ambitions aside to set up a home that I think suits her husband more than it does her. In fact all of the girls have to repress their true nature in some way.
    I also felt that, for a classic novel, it isn’t actually particularly well written. I think the reason it has achieved lasting fame is that the four main characters are all well defined and everyone can identify with one of them. Plus it’s not a challenging read, and the historical details can be quite charming. I just feel that when compared against Jane Eyre for example, which covers the same timespan in a young womans life, Little Women pales in comparison.

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