Meg and Jo is a novel by Virginia Kantra inspired by the classic Little Women. I’m not familiar with the plot of the original novel so any observations I have will be based on this book alone, and not a comparison between the two books.
I would call Meg and Jo a classic romance novel about findings love, the connection between sisters, and finding yourself. Jo was my favourite character, she left her family farm to go to the big city and follow her dreams. Meg is the opposite and she stayed in her hometown and started a family of her own. Neither of the sisters have the perfect life, although they may think the other does. Jo has found herself lost among the millions of other people searching for their dream in New York, and instead of living it, is just managing to hold on. Meg has found what she always wanted, but has discovered that trying to control and create the perfect family is a lot more overwhelming and difficult then she thought.
The Importance of Self Care
There are three characters in this book, who spend all their time thinking of others and not taking care of themselves. Taking care of yourself is not just about caring for your physical and mental health, but also nurturing what is important to you, such as your family and relationships. Each of these characters came to a point where they had to make a decision about what was most important, and what they were willing to loose to keep it. Was Meg’s relationship more important then control? Was the father’s family more important then charity? And was the mother’s need to keep the family together more important then self care?
At first I didn’t like Meg’s character. I didn’t like the way she treated her husband. She felt it was her duty to take on everything, knowing it was more then she could handle. Even when help was offered she refused to accept it. To her, it may have felt like pride, or failure if she accepted help, or even admitted she need it. To those on the outside, like her husband, she was closing herself off. Creating an island around herself, effectively ending the partnership that should exist in a marriage. By the end of the novel I grew to respect her. She was able to correct her mistakes, and show resilience and ingenuity. As a character she grew the most, and was able to make the right decisions for herself and her family.
I identified with Jo immediately. I understood the drive to leave the family home and make your own life in the city. Her dream was important to her, and she was afraid of being vulnerable and letting someone in, because she didn’t want to loose her identity. Her character was strong from the beginning, she was able to walk away from something when she realized it wasn’t good for her. Like her sister she was hard working, and didn’t give up. When one opportunity closed she used what she had and created a new path.
Amy & Beth
Amy and Beth were in the book too, but were not main characters, so we don’t have full insight into their worlds. There will be a second novel which I am excited to read, that will let us see into Amy and Beth’s lives. Although they were not central, we still learned some small details about their lives. Amy is into fashion, and lives overseas, and Beth is a songwriter who is hoping to make her big break. I can’t wait to read the next book and get the full picture of the sister’s relationships. Meg & Jo ended with a few questions that will hopefully be answered in the next novel.
If you are looking for a light read, that re-tells a classic story, in today’s world, I would recommend this book. The only thing I will say is that if you are a strong Little Women fan, you may not like some of the changes that were made to adapt the story and put the authors personal spin on it. But despite any changes, this is a great story about the bond between sisters, and growing up.