The plot's episodic and linear. The four March sisters --- tomboyish Jo, beautiful Meg, socialite Amy, and sickly Beth --- grow up to embrace their less exalted positions in the world and find happiness in the simple joys of family and home.
I wasn't as thrilled with this book as I have been with some other classics. I can’t deny the lasting appeal of Alcott’s characters, especially the literate and introspective Jo (based on the author herself); and I enjoyed the depiction of the sisters growing up along side their boy neighbor. But I had forgotten --- or possibly never realized, due to my age at the time --- how didactic, priggish, and tedious this book is, its primary purpose apparently being to moralize to young girls.
The book’s a product of its time, of course, and I have no problem with moral lessons in literature as a general rule. But I do object to being moralized at directly by the narrator and to being told rather than shown the conclusions I as a reader must draw. Of course, I’m a 37-year-old man in 2008, and the book was written for young girls in 1870. Still, so was
Also: some of the most nauseating fake children’s speech ever ("Opy doy, me’s tummin!" is written for "Open the door, I'm coming" --- did children ever talk like that? They don't now).