In the Bookcase


LITERARY DISCUSSION! Let's talk Little Women -- anyone?

Hi, Readers! Today I have a survey of sorts for you. My blogging friend and author Susan Bailey (Louisa May Alcott Is My Passion) sent me some questions to ask my blog readers...

Susan is looking for feedback while writing a book proposal for her biography on Elizabeth Alcott (that's Louisa May Alcott's younger sister, fictionally better known as Beth in the famous novel). Susan needs input from Little Women fans like yourself! >>

Comment below if you have any thoughts to share.

• What would you most like to know about Elizabeth and why?

• What do you know already about her?

• Who is your favorite March sister and why? If Beth is not your favorite, why?

• Do you think Beth is a relevant character for modern readers and why or why not? What would make her more "real" to you?

Chime in, dear literary friends! Answer just one question, or answer all.

I look forward to hearing what you have to say on the subject.

Oh! And check out Susan's other books that you can read now:


  1. Joanna R.7/09/2017

    I'll see if I can come up with any good answers! :D

  2. Anonymous7/09/2017

    My favorite March sister was always Jo. She was a girl after my own heart. But I still liked Beth's character a lot.

    I would most be interested in seeing the parallels of what Louisa fictionalized about Beth, as compared to the true facts of things that really happened to Elisabeth.

  3. Susan, here's my response!

    Honestly, I don't know too much about Elizabeth yet. But I'm interested in branching out in Louisa's family (and look forward to this new books of yours, Susan!) What I know about Elizabeth, are mostly assumptions from her character in Little Women. So, I am foremost interested in finding out how much of Beth March is true to life.

    Other questions I have... How did Elizabeth fit into the Alcott family dynamic? What was her personality like? What things would the Alcott family have missed after she died? I would be interested in knowing about her interests in life, the hobbies she enjoyed as a child, if she had a suitor, what kind of work she did (either in the home, volunteer work, or otherwise), etc.

    Although Jo is, in fact, my favorite sister in Little Women, I've still carried a soft spot in my heart for Beth. Especially after my second reading, I connected well with Beth in the novel, as we both seem to share the qualities of the shy, quiet girl. :) Her character has a sweet spirit.

    In answer to the 4th question, I think Elizabeth is relevant to modern readers. Well, to me, anyways. With Little Women being an American classic, I think people will always want to find out more about those 4 special ladies.

    1. Elizabeth was one of those people who was hidden in plain view. Once I started seeing her through her own lens rather than Louisa's or her parents, I began to find things. Takes a lot of reading between the lines (especially with Little Women!). Lots of maddening cryptic one-liners in family writings.

  4. I know Elizabeth was considered the "angel in the house." I think with so many strong willed women in the house, she had a quiet strength that kept them all together. They loved Elizabeth/Beth for her quiet, gentle nature. I do not know what she died from-no one will ever really know-possibly her heart was weakened after having rheumatic fever. I know she played the piano and that's about all I know about her. Beth was always my second favorite sister after Jo. I could identify with being shy. I found it interesting that in the Little Women Letters on YouTube, Beth has an anxiety disorder. That's more extreme than mere shyness. I don't think the original Beth in the book had an anxiety disorder-she was just shy and kept sheltered, like many women of her day. (Emily Dickinson perhaps had some kind of social anxiety disorder). Beth was able to confront Mr. Lawrence and thank him when his own grandson was afraid.

    1. That would be an interesting angle on Beth's personality, whether or not she had deeper anxiety.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    2. Was it shyness or extreme self-consciousness? That's one issue I will tackle. It seems too with shy people (like me) that when you have a specific agenda, you can overcome your shyness. Beth's gratitude and the need to let Mr. Laurence know was her "agenda" to temporarily overcoming her shyness in order to thank him. As a result, they formed a friendship and she continued to play for him.

  5. Julianna7/11/2017

    I would love to read a book about Elizabeth Alcott. I've never thought about reading a bio on her before, but now that the idea is presented to me, I'd take it.

    I'd be interested in reading anything you can "dig up" on her life. Perhaps if Elizabeth kept a journal or wrote letters we could read from, that would be amazing to read from her perspective.

    1. Julianna, thanks for stopping by my blog.

      Letters... yes! Journals... yes! Sounds perfect.

    2. Yup, have them and will share them.

  6. What would you most like to know about Elizabeth and why?
    Her sweetness and goodness without the annoying pride that seems to sneak into those characters. Also, the other characters loved her, which made her even more lovable.

    What do you know already about her?
    I have read the book a couple of times, and listened to the audiobook a couple more. So I feel I know a lot about her. However, I have never read a book about the real Elizabeth.

    Who is your favorite March sister and why? If Beth is not your favorite, why?
    As the oldest of five sisters I always felt a kinship to Meg.

    Do you think Beth is a relevant character for modern readers and why or why not? What would make her more "real" to you?
    Yes! She is a character that inspires us to better and greater things.

    1. I'm so happy you shared your thoughts, Sarah. Fabulous answers!

      I agree wholeheartedly, Beth's character can be an inspiration to us all.

  7. Beth is a sweetie! she was selfless and yet had great strength inside her. Though one can almost feel we don't know too much about her, and she becomes a bit of an enigma in the family after she passes.

    1. As a piano player myself, I would love to know what kind of music that Elizabeth liked to play.

    2. Yes, that will be covered; it's an important aspect of her life.

  8. I don't really know much about Elizabeth or any of Louisa May Alcott's siblings so it would be interesting to learn more. Beth was not my favorite character though she was very sweet and her story was sad. I think she was written as this angelic figure who didn't seem like a real person. Not really any flaws or character growth compared to the other sisters. I still cared about her though and as a kid I related to her love of music (I also played the piano) and her shyness. Jo was my favorite.

  9. Hi Tarissa, thanks for asking :)

    What would you most like to know about Elizabeth and why? So many things! I would really like to know about what her real connection to music was. Did she really love playing the piano? Why didn’t she get the opportunity to? Was there a real gift of a piano and did she get to have music lessons? Did she ever perform for the sisters’ plays behind the scenes, or for the neighbourhood children?

    What do you know already about her? Not very much I think, compared to how much there is to know! She was Louisa’s beloved sister, the latter really loved her and thought the world of her; she contracted scarlet fever, and died in her early twenties. I find it hard to untangle the ideas and impressions I have of Beth March from the snippets I read of Elizabeth.

    Who is your favorite March sister is and why? If Beth is not your favorite, why? Jo March – I identify with her penchant for writing, ice skating, reading, and not wanting to do what was expected of her. I like that she didn’t base her treatment of people on their wealth or status or what they could do for her. And I like that she didn’t chase money for the sake of money, but to benefit other people.

    Do you think Beth is a relevant character for modern readers and why or why not? What would make her more “real” to you? Definitely. I think she’s a relevant character in any age. Her virtues are often unsung but no less significant than the things that are easily seen. She’s quietly kind, and doesn’t make a show of her generosity; she shows tremendous gratitude for the kindnesses done for her, and doesn’t take people for granted – characteristics we would all do well to have more of!

    1. Trix, I knew you'd have a good amount to say on the subject, as you're very wise on the subject of Little Women. :)

      Now that you mentioned it, I need to know too... was there a real gift of a piano? What a wonderful idea.