I am one of those readers in that awkward category of being utterly in love with Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, while longing for an Austen-esque ending.
I loved Little Women Part 1, and had no idea Part 2 (Good Wives) existed, until years later. Jo was my favorite character – her penchant for writing, striving for independence, and pushing against societal expectations, resonated with me. I liked Laurie because he despised “fuss and feathers,” and for his liking Jo best of all because of her character.
I was disappointed with how things turned out. I had hoped Jo would write and travel abroad. It was difficult to read of Laurie’s frittering away his talent and money. They had so much potential – Jo as an author, Laurie as a musician. And I started to wonder - under what circumstances might Laurie not been so frivolous at college, and Jo received a deeper education to further her writing?
I also thought that if either did ever marry, it would have been to the other – a possibility I came to suspect hung on that moment when Marmee advised Jo that she and Laurie were not suited for marriage. And I started to imagine - what could Marmee have possibly said, that would have allowed Jo to love Laurie, had she chosen? How could Laurie have possibly proposed, in a different manner?
And Beth…how was it that the Laurences did not seem to do more to save her? This made sense in the context of Louisa’s history, as she had lost her sister Elizabeth – which agitated me to amend at least fictional history, even if I could do nothing about saving Elizabeth in real life.
But I didn’t plan to write a book! I was sitting on the couch with my husband while on holiday, doodling possible conversations…And as I wrote, I found the characters saying and doing things I hadn’t planned – and to find out what happened next, I had to keep writing. I felt almost like the story wanted to be written.
How this came to be a book started with just one comment – and I am so grateful for that timely line of encouragement! I have thoroughly enjoyed revisiting the lives of some of my favorite literary characters, and imagining what might have been.