Tuesday, April 26, 2022


 WWW. WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here.  

1. What are you currently reading? Not a Happy Family by Shari Lapena. This murder mystery is really holding my interest. Fred and Sheila Merton are a wealthy couple in their 60s. They have just celebrated Easter -- that holiday all about rebirth -- with their 3 adult children and significant others. After Sheila offers to send her kids home with slice of pie and they all leave, someone comes over and murders her and her husband. Who? Hard to tell, because there are so many suspects. 

So far it's a mash-up between Ordinary People and the Menendez Brothers. 

2. What did you just finish reading? Great or Nothing, by Joy McCullough, Caroline Tung Richmond, Tess Sharpe & Jessica Spotswood. I went into this book skeptical. Little Women is one of my all-time favorites, and I never thought Louisa Mae Alcott updating. Curiosity got the better of me -- the story has been moved from the 1860s (Civil War) to the 1940s (WWII) -- and I gave it a shot. It very nearly won me over.

Each March sister gets her own author, and therefore her own distinctive voice. This works very well. Amy and Meg, two sisters who can be overshadowed, benefit and are well rounded and more likable. Beth's story is told in poetry, which can be moving and quite spiritual. Jo? Jo no longer seems like Jo. She is angry through much of the book, and wounded. OK, I get that. But she avoids Marmee and her sisters, refusing to take their calls or answer their letters. Radio silence is not an arrow in my Jo's quiver.

Laurie is enhanced and explained, which is a plus. But Professor Bhaer, one of my favorites, is gone. Replaced by an investigative journalist named Charley. To my mind, Charley is not an improvement. Patient Professor Bhaer introduced Jo to the things she longed to learn more about, loved her and was her helpmate in eventually starting Plumfield School (I'm getting ahead of myself and into Little Men). Charley is just as mercurial as Jo, and enlists Jo's help in journalist assignments. A small but important change. Instead of complementing Jo, helping her to follow her path and become whole, Charley seems a reflection of my favorite heroine, not a helpmate. It left me feeling a little sad.

So in all, I guess how you feel about Great or Nothing depends on how you feel about Little Women. For me, the March girls are lifelong friends, so I may be too demanding on any attempt to reimagine them.

3. What will you read next? I don't know.