Tuesday, 14 May 2013

If Lousia May Alcott Lived in Modern Times ...

My recent post on Stephen King and the lack of success he would have if he was an unknown writer attempting to publish his first novel, Carrie, in the current era make me think of another author and the lack of success they would have writing for the modern market. Lousia May Alcott is another brilliant writer who probably wouldn't be able to find either publication, or an audience of willing readers, if she were alive today and trying to get published.

Granted, Alcott's most famous novel Little Women was written purely for commercial purposes. Prior to that, Alcott had attempted to write and publish several novels that were of little interest to anyone, due to their lack of marketable content in the time and era where she lived. And then there is that whole urban myth about how she hated little girls. Anyway, Little Women, proved so popular with it's themes of loyalty and living right that it soon spawned a sequel titled Good Wives where the March sisters grew up. Or three of them did, with Beth famously passing away. The oldest March sister, Meg, was married off at the beginning of the novel, starts popping out babies and subsequently does little in the remainder of the novel, suggesting that, despite the title, Alcott does not find married life to be terribly interesting or worthy literary material. Meanwhile, Amy travels overseas where she is reunited with Jo's childhood friend Laurie. They fall in love and marry, much to the vexation of Jo who had turned down Laurie's marriage proposal some time before. And, because Jo is the real star of the series, you'd think that Alcott would have a pretty kick arse romance for her in the works. After all, the book is titled Good Wives. All of the March sisters are meant to find their handsome prince. So who will he be? Will he be rich? Clever? Handsome?

Actually, Jo's husband-to-be is a bumbling professor in his forties named Fritz. Yes. Fritz. This guy:


William Shatner as Fritz Bhear in a somewhat forgettable
TV version of Little Women. 

Jo March has a love interest who isn't hot. And he isn't a millionaire. It's the most unlikely romance in literature since Marianne from Sense and Sensibility got hitched to that old army guy. (Who was superbly played by Alan Rickman in the film version, but that is another story.) And, I repeat. He isn't hot. He's not hot folks.

And this leaves me wondering and pondering what would have happened if Louisa May Alcott was trying to publish Good Wives in the present day. What would readers in the post-Twilight/Fifty Shades of Grey era make of a love interest who isn't well ... hot. Or rich. Or even you know, hot underneath all of the dorky professor outfits. I can almost see the tirade of complaints on goodreads. I read through all of these pages just waiting to see who Jo would end up with ... and she goes and marries some crusty old professor. I'm giving this book half a star on that alone. And that's just assuming that the book even makes it to publication. I can just see someone trying to encourage the author to drop Fritz's age by about fifteen years, jack up his income and add in some totally unnecessary paragraphs about his six pack. Totally unnecessary and counterproductive to any point that the author may have been trying to make about Jo holding out for a man who values her independence and intelligence, but hey, you know, at least he's hot. 

**Note. In Australia and many other parts of the world Little Women and Good Wives are published as two separate volumes. In the US and Canada, the books are always contained in the same volume and are published as Little Women