Thursday, February 02, 2023

19. Belittled Women

Belittled Women. Amanda Sellet. 2022. [November] 384 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence from prologue: Mark your calendars! The area's most literary attraction, Little Women Live! kicks off a seventh spectacular season this June.

First sentence from chapter one: It doesn't matter how fast you run, or how far. There are things in this life you can't escape. Like your family. At least not during track season.

Premise/plot: Jo Porter HATES--passionately loathes and despises--playing "Jo March" at her family's 'literary' attraction. There are three Porter sisters--Meg, Jo, and Bethamy. These three play three of the March sisters--Meg, Jo, and Amy. They hire an actor to play characters like Beth, Laurie, Brooke, etc. Their mom plays Marmee of course. These "live skits" veer from the novel. They are often improvisation. No one goes more off script--downright wild--than Amy. Andrea [I can't remember her last name] and her son/assistant, Hudson [also can't remember his last name] come to town to see this "live 'literary' attraction themselves. They will be writing up a story and providing publicity. [The actor that plays John Brooke, David, is suspicious of these two. He senses that they are liar, liar, pants on fire. That no story written will be positive.] The rest of the family, those that are tuned in and not tuned out, are not suspicious. Jo thinks she's found a kindred spirit in Andrea, and a possible love interest in Hudson. So she's letting it all hang out--no secret left untold.

My thoughts: What I liked was soon outweighed by what I didn't like. By far my favorite character was David, the super-cute, super-likable boy-next-door. He was practically perfect in every way. Of course, you could say he was a little too good to be true. That perhaps to be more realistic, he should have been written in with a flaw or two. My biggest problem with this one, and I'm just speaking for myself, of course, is that I hated all the characters. Hate is a strong word. I thought Jo was a horrible person. I cringed spending time with her. Meg, well, I only saw Meg through Jo's eyes, and Meg was someone that Jo HATED, DISRESPECTED, TRASHED. Amy, again, I only saw through Jo's eyes, and Amy was someone that Jo found ANNOYING and obnoxious and ridiculous. [Perhaps that lines up in part with book Amy, but in a different way.] Jo dislikes her mother, obviously, and thinks any time spent with the family is horrible, awful, just pure torture. Jo was such a negative character. The only person she doesn't outright hate is David whom she's secretly crushing on. She's also smitten with what Andrea represents--someone from out of town who is living life on her own terms--and Hudson--new boy to crush on. 

Readers either have to a) believe Jo 100% and think that her mother, her sisters, the whole world is cruel and unfair. That Jo is being mistreated, misunderstood, disrespected. or b) believe that Jo has an attitude problem, a big attitude problem, and that EVERYTHING we see through her eyes is to be taken with a grain of salt. 

As for how the book treats the source material, again it is written from someone who DESPISES, HATES, LOATHES the original book. Jo doesn't see anything "good" or "positive" or remarkable about Alcott's novel. 

So if you are picking this one up because you actually like the original book, it's like a slap in the face. It is written in a way that could only appeal to those who hate the original. And if that's the case, then maybe they'll enjoy most of it??? But then the "twist" at the end might disappoint. 

As for the ending, it felt SO odd. Like WHO is Jo really in light of her "aha" moments??? And why couldn't she have had her aha moment earlier in the novel??? Too little, too late for me to start liking her. And will this "new Jo" stick around????


© 2023 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

1 comment:

Ms. Yingling said...

Thank you for this. I'm not a huge fan of reimaginings anyway, and you're right that you should probably like the original at least a little. You took one for the team here and I appreciate it!