Monday, December 02, 2019
Meg & Jo by Virginia Kantra
"Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents." Sound familiar? The March sisters and their mother have moved into an old farmhouse in Bunyan, North Carolina because their father is in Iraq as an army chaplain. They moved from the pastor's house, and now their mother has made the transition to a goat farmer. The story opens as they eagerly await a call from their father in the prologue to the story.
When Jo tells her story, though, she's 28, living in New York City. She hoped to be a writer, but was laid off at a newspaper, and she's now a prep cook at a restaurant, and a food blogger. Although her best friend, Theodore Laurence III (Trey), has insisted he loves her, Jo knows she doesn't love him. She wants to be independent, and write books. In the meantime, she secretly writes a blog called "Hungry", and admires her boss, Eric Bhaer, a chef who is passionate about serving people.
Meg is living the life she wanted, married to John Brooke. They have twins, and she quit her job at the bank to stay home with the children, so John was forced to give up his teaching job and work for Trey's grandfather at his car dealership. Meg knows she should be happy, but when their mother ends up in the hospital, she takes on the role of caretaker of the farm. For Meg, life is all about responsibility and not asking for help.
Do you sense dissatisfaction here? While Amy is off in Paris on an internship with Louis Vuitton, Beth is in Branson, performing in the chorus of a show. By the time they all come together back at the farm for Christmas, Jo and Meg and Mrs. March will have made some major changes in their lives. Satisfying changes.
I loved Little Women. I cherish the book, and several gifts I've received from my mother that are related to the book. I've seen the play. I'll be going to this year's Christmas movie, Little Women. However, Virginia Kantra did a wonderful job updating the story. I fell in love with Eric Bhaer, which is good because Jo will always be my favorite March sister. I cheered for Mrs. March who finally stands up to her husband. And, Meg's life changes. If you were young, as I was, when I read Little Women, Meg & Jo puts the entire story in perspective. It's the best compliment I can give to an update to a classic to say this was satisfying.
Virginia Kantra's website is www.virginiakantra.com
Meg & Jo by Virginia Kantra. Berkley (Penguin Random House), 2019. ISBN 9780593100349 (paperback), 400p.
FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book from the publisher after I agreed to review it, with no promises as to a positive review.