Author(s): Louisa May Alcott
Christmas seems to offer few joys to the four daughters of the March household. With their army chaplain father away at the Civil War, times are hard for Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy, and for Marmee, the self-sacrificing matriarch of the New England family. A letter from their absent father exhorts the girls to work hard and be dutiful, so that "I may be fonder and prouder than ever of my little women". Jo, a coltish aspiring writer, rises to meet that expectation, as do pretty, vain Meg; affected, selfish Amy; and shy, sweet-natured Beth. The road to maturity is full of simple pleasures, and womanhood brings romance, but the family also has to face many trials and crises along the way. Louisa May Alcott drew heavily on her own experience for this powerful domestic drama and moving coming-of-age story, whose homespun charm and core family values made it a cultural landmark in America, and enduringly popular in all corners of the globe.