THE LITTLE WOMEN by Katharine Weber


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An Alcott-inspired, sweetly smug, old-fashioned third by Weber (Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear, 1995, etc.) about three likable sisters who reject their perfect parents after a moral slipup.

Meg, the competent romantic and junior at Yale; plainspoken Joanna, almost 17; and 15-year-old impetuous Amy are the three Green sisters who have grown up in New York City under the intellectual and morally nourishing guidance of inventor Lou and academic mother Janet. Yet once the girls stumble on an incriminating e-mail from one of Janet’s smitten graduate students—he calls their mother his “little fuckbird”—they righteously decide to leave home and move into Meg’s New Haven apartment for the school year. What ensues is a touching struggle as the girls try to sustain themselves with little money, foil hostility in the inner-city public school, and maintain neutral relations with their nice-guy orphan roommate, Teddy Bell, who deconstructs their intentions and has to negotiate their collective PMS. The premise—that the Green parents would let the daughters desert the household without a battle—would be far-fetched in the hands of a writer less skilled, but Weber fleshes out her lively, spontaneous characters with tremendously affecting detail. She also enlists comments from the so-called real people involved in the making of the book—the sisters, for example (MG, AG), and the supposed writer herself, Joanna Green (JG). Italicized comments by these “observers” appear from time to time (after a long passage about Lou and Janet’s courtship, MG exclaims, “Boring, boring!” and AG angrily refutes her character’s portrayal: “I wasn’t as much of a loser as you want me to be for the purposes of your stupid novel”). These annotations, initially intrusive, gradually assume an amusing and integral part of the narrative. The sisters’ sanctimonious unity is ruptured when Meg becomes enmeshed with an older, married scholar—a letdown, too, for anyone rooting for these smart-alecky, precocious young ladies.

A novel of the old school: chockfull of know-it-all literary allusions and very hard not to like.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-374-18959-5
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2003


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