Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Little Women, India Style

Published:  September 6th, 2012
Little Women In India
By: Jane Nardin
New Dawn Publishers, Ltd
ISBN-13: 9781908462077

In Jane Nardin’s debut novel, we have a lively and witty updating and reimagining of Alcott’s classic, interspersing the standard Victorian female preoccupations of housekeeping and husband-hunting with less usual activities such as escaping mutineers and learning how to make charcoal. Nardin’s Little Women are more than Alcott’s pilgrims in progress; they are recognizably modern. . . . Readers will find this an interesting, well-paced novel with likeable and energetic characters.

Susan Ang, author of The Master of the Rings: Inside the World of J.R.R. Tolkien and The Widening World of Children’s Literature

Nowadays, Abe Lincoln fights vampires and Mr. Darcy is the least of Elizabeth Bennet’s problems, what with zombies and all. Could Little Women in India compete with that? Absolutely! It's fun, insightful and crammed with illuminating information. These sisters live a frugal life, with romance and a growing social consciousness, in colonial India--19th century Little Women with 21st century values.

     Imagine what the classic book Little Women by Louisa May Alcott would be like, if instead of being set in America, was set in India during Victorian times and British occupation?  Also what if the sisters' ages were switched around a little bit?  Throw in an uprising of the impoverished people of India, and you have Nardin's novel.  It was extremely interesting to me to read this, and compare it to the original novel.  Being British and having grown up in India DID alter the personalities of the once-familiar May (a.k.a March) girls quite a bit.  Catherine (Jo) is the oldest, then comes Jane (Meg), Elizabeth (Amy) and Fanny (Beth).  Once I had figured out who was who, I spent the majority of the novel watching them grow and change, into less selfish and more socially concious individuals.  They all began to think of more than husband hunting when the rebellion broke out and they were forced to flee to a poverty stricken village to hide from the rebels (who were skewering any English, including women and children).  I went into this book not knowing much about the politics of India in the late 1800s and I was given quite the education, in a very enjoyable way.  It did seem to take about a third of the book before the action picked up, but once it did it was constant and thrilling.  The one thing that confused me very much throughout the book, was the humor.  I felt like Nardin was poking fun at the original characters from Alcott's novel and as a result made hers into something of a caricature.  It gave me a struggle when I tried relating to them, or even liking them at all.  I did appreciate the self-righteousness of the original book when it was sneakily pointed out, but it did take something from her re-telling that to me was crucial.  But because of how absolutely well done the setting, history and descriptions were, I found myself ignoring the characters' more stupid moments.  All in all and enjoyable book and I would recommend to both fans and detractors of the original work! :)
VERDICT:  4/5  Stars
*I received an Advanced Reading E-book Copy from the publisher, via NetGalley. No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book was published on September 6th, 2012.*

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