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The Little Women Letters - Gabrielle Donnelly

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Genre: Fiction / Author: Gabrielle Donnelly / Paperback / 437 Pages / Book is published 2011-05-26 by Michael Joseph

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    2 Reviews
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      25.09.2012 13:41
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      A good read.

      As a fan of books (in whatever subject they may cover!) i jumped at the chance to read a book that re-visits one of my favourite books from my childhood, but with a modern day twist.

      The book in question is - "The little women letters by Gabrielle Donnelly".
      Emma, Lulu and Sophie couldn't be more different if they tried! Emma is the eldest and has always been the serious and calculated one, meeting her soulmate at school she has had a ten year plan since she was 10!

      Lulu is highly intellegent and a whizz at science, but has so far drifted since getting her masters, hiding herself at a now not so thriving antiques store.
      She has always felt very different to others and has no confidence in herself, feeling like the clumsy middle one, that offers nothing and is not always referred to, this has made her quite defensive and surly!

      Sophie is an aspiring actress, and everything is about her! Beautiful and drawing admiring glances everywhere she goes her vapid personality makes her completely oblivious to what is in front of her face!

      Surprising that they are sisters!

      The Atwaters (as they are collectively known!) are a far from average family, with their mother Fee being American born, and a fierce feminist, she finds herself married and completely in love with her long suffering English husband, and the mother of three completely different, but equally talented daughters.

      After a phone call from Fee's eccentric elderly aunt Amy searching for a cookery book passed down through the generations, Lulu is tasked with the job of going through all the families papers in the attic.

      What she finds is a collection of papers and letters from her great-great grandmother Jo, whose life and personality seems to run parallel with Lulu's own life, maybe she isn't so different after all!?

      This book is obviously based on the original book of "Little Women", with many of the letters containing scene's from the original book, what I really enjoyed however is how the sisters are obviously based on the three remaining March sisters, and how the original characters traits seem to have been passed down to them (ie Lulu's inability to conform, and Emma's rigidity of form when it comes to her impending marriage), though was pleased that it also showed how the characters did actually change a little throughout the book to fit a modern perspective.

      The characters although at times a little caricature for me did feel quite real, with me feeling a real apathy with Lulu, and her apparent reservations at following her families wishes for her, and sticking to her guns job wise, again a comparison with the original character of Jo can be drawn.

      The book is actually a "feel good" book, and in no way contained any sort of violence or sex, but was a nice gentle and interesting read, and a book that I can only highly recommend!

      Price wise this has a RRP of £6.99, but can be purchased for much less via www.amazon.co.uk

      Thanks for reading x

      ISBN 978-0-718-15658-9

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        18.09.2011 10:41
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        An enjoyable book

        Having read and loved Louisa May Alcott's classic, 'Little Women' as a child, I was intrigued by the title of Gabrielle Donnelly's first novel, 'The Little Women Letters'. This is a modern day tale following the lives of Jo March's (one of the original characters) ancestors. These are the Atwater sisters - Emma, Lulu and Sophie - who in many ways are very much like the March sisters albeit living in an entirely different age with different expectations and far fewer restrictions.

        The three sisters each have very different personalities and each one is very much like one of the March sisters. Emma, the eldest is sensible and practical, very much like Meg in the original story; Sophie, aspiring actress and also the youngest is more flighty and excitable, just like Amy; and then there's Lulu, the one in the middle who is just a bit quirky and different and does not always conform to her family's expectations - just like Jo March herself.

        The story takes place pretty much over the course of a year where all three are faced with challenges as well as enjoying triumphs. Emma is looking forward to her marriage to Matthew but soon comes to realise that marriage is often about compromise especially when Matthew asks her to make a big decision concerning her future. Sophie has moderate success in her quest to be an actress but needs to decide whether she is prepared to forget her principles in order to achieve what she wants. A life threatening situation makes her realise that there is more to life than just her career. Then there is Lulu who is struggling to decide what she wants out of life and trying not to get too annoyed with her family who continually push her for decisions. Each of these character has their own story but all three interweave very well along with the lives of their family and friends.

        As Lulu struggles to make decisions about her future, it is her family that provides her with inspiration. It is not her immediate family though but the family that is long gone. By chance, Lulu stumbles across a boxful of letters in the attic that were all written by her great great grandmother, Jo March. By reading the letters, she realises the closeness of the March family and how difficult their lives were especially when the fourth sister, Beth, died at a young age. By coming to understand some of the choices faced by Jo and her sisters, it helps Lulu make some choices of her own too.

        Although I found it a bit difficult to get in to at the start, I came to really enjoy 'The Little Women Letters'. I found the three main characters very entertaining and really enjoyed their sisterly banter. I also become quite caught up in their dramas and I was very much hoping that things would turn out well for all of them. I very much enjoyed reading all of the letters sent by Jo March but I did wish that I had perhaps read 'Little Women' a little more recently as then I would have known more about many of the events that she was referring too.

        Overall, 'The Little Women Letters' is a really interesting and entertaining read. If you are like me, you might find it a little slow to start with but it is definitely worth persevering with. This is a lovely story with some honest characters that you probably wouldn't mind knowing in real life. Also, if you remember Little Women from your childhood reading, there is a lovely sense of nostalgia too.

        'The Little Women Letters' is currently available on Amazon in paperback for £4.99 (August 2011).

        This review has previously appeared under my name at www.curiousbookfans.co.uk

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