A classic tale of sisters, now with Werewolves (for some reason) – “Little Women and Werewolves” by Louisa May Alcott and Porter Grand
From the forefather of the genre, “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” to the under-appreciated “Jane Slayre,” I’ve had a blast reading these clever mix-ups of classic literature and monsters. I’ve even defended them when some of the more book-snobby people I know said they were stupid and pointless. (Not that they’re not stupid and pointless, it’s just that sometimes stupid and pointless is just fine.)
However, I think I’ve reached the end of my appreciation for the genre – as evidenced by my feelings on “Little Women and Werewolves.”
Though I like the concept (Louisa May Alcott’s original draft of her famous novel included a werewolf plot which her publishers made her remove – and that this is the true original) the actual mixing of the March sisters and werewolves falls flat much of the time, and doesn’t seem that well integrated into the events of the book.
Instead of the civil war, there’s a werewolf war going on. The March’s neighbors might be werewolves. Yet, the March sisters are almost as silly as ever, putting on plays and spatting over Christmas presents. Also, instead of grand, sweeping romances, Jo writes werewolf stories.
Well, to quote the heroine of a recent book I reviewed here: “Fiddle-dee-dee!”
Basically, the insertion of werewolves doesn’t make the original scary, nor does it add anything to the wonderful original it’s supposedly paying tribute to.
For example, anyone who knows anything of “Little Women” knows that Beth dies. (There’s even an episode of Friends that centers on that.) If it’s a spoiler to you, sorry, but really – it’s just a thing people know. Beth’s death in the actual novel is heart-breaking and a key event. Here, it’s thrown away rather stupidly and completely ineffective. I think it’s supposed to be a big, brave thing, but it’s…. snooze-worthy.
The only upside to this book, far as I can see, is the revelation that is Amy March. Bratty Amy, a one-dimensional character if one was ever written in the original novel, is actually the most interesting part of this version of the story. As Laurie is a werewolf, Amy’s eventual falling in love with him – and the actions she takes to secure her place with him – provide about the only interesting plot. Extracting that plot-line, developing it, and making it a book called (perhaps), “Amy March loves a Werewolf,” would have been a far better tactic.
So, there’s a lone bright spot. And her name is Amy.
Jo, Meg, Marmee, and Beth, however (who’ve always been more interesting than Amy) are all really boring here.
Figure that one out.
The inclusion of werewolves into this classic tale of sisters seems a little….haphazard. It never made it past the original thought, or something. And its a shame, because this book could have been as grand as some of the books it tries to follow.
Oh well, I’ll always have “Android Karenina.”