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» Saturday, November 14, 2020Little Successes and Little Women
Started our weekend with things already accomplished: I'd brushed out the dog, finally got my safe-deposit box re-established and renewed a CD (only for six months because interest rates were so loathesome), made an eye exam appointment, and wrote out Thanksgiving cards. (Also, alas, the shrimp we had for our anniversary made me sick. Dammit.)
Thursday, after doing most of the shopping and mailing the cards, we also got the lift for the power chair checked out. The crossbar was definitely not holding the chair as tightly as it could, so I'm glad that's been fixed. We also went to Barnes & Noble. I found an interesting bargain book about the history of "The Star-Spangled Banner." Unfortunately it was not the end of our grocery shopping, as we needed no-salt-added mushrooms and one Kroger didn't have them, so we had to go to another. Two Krogers on Friday are two too many. However, this was balanced out by a nice lunch at The BBQ Place with the Spiveys, Aubrey Spivey, and the Boulers (we hadn't seen the latter in a while).
We did have a nice time on Saturday morning when we attended the Marietta Farmer's Market. We brought Tucker with us and he had a great time greeting the many other canines wandering about: we kept bumping into the same spaniel who wanted to play, a supercilious poodle who was having none of it, a very shy puppy who was going to grow up to outweigh Tucker probably five to one, and a tiny Yorkshire Terrier who came on very strong despite probably weighing five pounds dripping wet. Tucker wasn't sure what to make of him, or of a huge black mastiff-like dog (a Cane Corso, perhaps, or a Presa Canario) who was very chill (big dogs, of course, have nothing to prove!). He was lying down when we encountered him, and Tucker circled him warily, keeping his distance. I think he thought it was a bear!
The rest of Saturday was more routine; James had his club meeting, so I did some chores and then sat down to watch the newest reiteration of Little Women by Greta Gerwig. In general I liked it. The idea of doing it as a series of flashbacks was interesting, and especially where there were parallels, as when Beth was sick initially and then later sickened again, it worked well. Saoirse Ronan was a great Jo (but does Jo never comb her hair? the real Jo would have worn it in a snood or in braids, as she has it at the beginning of the book, to keep it out of her face while doing chores), and for once Laurie looked like I imagined him (although Timothee Chalomet still looked like a kid at the end, which was disconcerting; no effort was made to make him look more adult, which, as a result, made Florence Pugh, as Amy, look older than he was and Amy was four years younger than Laurie). I must be the only person in the world who did not adore Christian Bale as Laurie (in the 1994 version).
For once Beth actually looked as sick as she was, but Beth herself, even though they do the incident with Beth catching scarlet fever from the Hummels and with Mr. Lawrence giving Beth the piano and her giving him the slippers and Jo taking Beth to the seashore to improve her health—well, even though Jo is there I never get this real sense of a close bond between Jo and Beth the way it is in the book.
The home interiors looked very realistic, as did the candlelit dim rooms.
I even enjoyed the ambiguity of the ending. It plays with the fact that Louisa Alcott never intended for Jo to marry anyone and only "made her a funny match" to please her publisher. She got her wish with her pseudo-Jo in Jo's Boys, as Nan Harding becomes a doctor and remains single.
Everyone has commented about Florence Pugh's performance, and I thought she did well as older Amy, but she looked ridiculous as young Amy. I have to say that in any of the versions where they use the scene where Amy burns Jo's book, this is probably the most hateful Amy I've ever seen, and that includes Ann Dusenberry's dreadful Amy in the TV miniseries version in the 1970s. In this version, as in the TV version, Jo should have let her drown. She was always whining.
I know the Marches were poor, but I do not see Mrs. March allowing Meg to show up at the Moffats looking like she was about to do housework. What on earth was that awful burlap-looking thing she was wearing when she got out of the carriage?
James Norton was stiff as a board as John Brooke. The only good thing you can say about him is that he was a better looking John than Eric Stoltz.
Once again it's Marmee's miracle arrival that saves Beth, although not so blatantly as in the 1994 version. After a bout of scarlet fever that severe, Beth was not going to be downstairs sipping soup the day after her fever broke.
And once again the March family has a Christmas tree, although historically they were not common in people's homes until the 1890s. Alcott doesn't indicate that the house is decorated for Christmas during either of the book's two Christmas scenes. The only ornamentation mentioned are Beth's roses and "Amy's pet geranium." The only Christmas decoration I recall Alcott mentioning at all was when Jo momentarily remembered Christmases when she was small and the Marches had money: "No stockings hung at the fireplace, and for a moment she felt as much disappointed as she did long ago, when her little sock fell down because it was crammed so full of goodies."
I have to say I felt this new version dragged, even with the altered narrative. I kept looking at the clock. Never a good thing.
My favorite of the film adaptations is still the 1994 one. Especially for the score. Oh, that wonderful score!
My favorite version of Little Women is still the book.