Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Little Women Comparison Post, of a Rather Different Nature

When I wrote my previous post on Little Women I had intended to include another set of comparisons, but apparently my mind was still under the effects of the terrible malady, for I wrote the entire post without once remembering my secondary aim, viz. to show the similar nature between Little Women and The Penderwicks series (considered as one book for the purposes of this post).

(Spoilers for The Penderwicks are in green, spoilers for Little Women are in dark red. Spoilers for both are in black.)

To begin with, the story features four sisters. These four sisters have only one parent around at the beginning of the story, but by the conclusion they have two ( Mr. March returns home, and *SPOILER* Mr. Penderwick remarries). *End SPOILER*
Both the Penderwicks and the Marches live in Massachusetts!

Not all of the sisters match up exactly with their counterparts in age, but there are some similarities:

  • The eldest sister is practical. Her name is long (Margaret in Little Women, Rosalind in The Penderwicks), but her family often calls her something short (Meg in Little Women, Rosy in The Penderwicks)
  • The second oldest sister is rather a tomboy and pretty stubborn and feisty (Skye in The Penderwicks, Jo in Little Women). 
  • One of the sisters is a prolific writer (Jane, the second youngest in The Penderwicks, Jo in Little Women). 
  • One sister is artistic and beauty loving (Jane in The Penderwicks, Amy in Little Women). 
  • Another is very shy of strangers, sweet, piano-playing and music-loving (Batty, the youngest in The Penderwicks, and Beth in Little Women - hey, both of their names begin with "B" and are nicknames for Elizabeth). Both are animal lovers, too.
  • They are all pretty close, but the two middle sisters (Sky and Jane,  Jo and Beth) are closest to each other, and the eldest and youngest (Rosalind and Batty, Meg and Amy) are closest to each other. 

Then we have the clincher: Laurie/Jeffrey. In the beginning of both stories, the girls meet a boy who comes from a rich family but is lonely. He loves music. They informally adopt him as a brother and he is adored by all the sisters. He has only one parental figure (Jeffrey in The Penderwicks has a mother, Laurie in Little Women has his grandfather), who does care about him but doesn't understand him very well and can be stern (Mrs. Tifton is a lot stricter and more snooty than Mr. Laurence, however).
*Spoiler!! You may know this about LW and could guess it in reading TP but be warned!* Laurie/Jeffrey (Lauffrey? Jaurie?) falls in love with Jo/Skye, or fancies himself in love anyway. Jo/Skye (Jye? Sko?) can't see him as anything but a dear brother. Laurie ends up marrying the baby of the family, Amy, who has loved him since childhood. There is one more Penderwick book, which Jeanne Birdsall is currently writing, and I can't help guessing that Jeffrey will marry the baby of the Penderwick family, too: Batty. This is merely conjecture, but do look at this quote from the first book, after Jeffrey had rescued Batty:
"As I was saying [said Mr. Penderwick], in some cultures it's believed that when a person saves someone from death, he or she forever owns a part of that someone's soul. So Jeffrey is now linked to our family whether he likes it or not."
"That's kind of romantic," said Jane.
"Romantic, schmomantic. What the heck would Jeffrey do with Batty's soul?" said Skye.
Batty opened her eyes sleepily. "He could marry me," she said.
"Marry you!" Jane and Rosalind laughed while Skye fell off her chair and rolled around the floor like Hound when his back itched.
What do you think?

Plus, neither the Marches nor the Penderwicks call their mother "Mom" or "Mother": the Marches generally use "Marmee" and the Penderwicks use " Mommy" or *SPOILER* Ianthe. *END SPOILER* Okay, maybe I'm stretching the similarities a little. ;)

There are some differences, of course: as mentioned, Mrs. Tifton is several degrees more unpleasant than Laurie's grandfather. *SPOILER* Rosalind doesn't marry Jeffrey's tutor and have twins, like Meg (as far as we know). And neither Jane (Beth's counterpart in age) or Batty (Beth's counterpart in personality) die. *END this SPOILER, begin THIS SPOILER* In the third Penderwick book, they acquire two more siblings, unlike LW. *END ALL SPOILERS* The Penderwicks are not rich (with a college professor's salary??), but they aren't so poor as the Marches. Obviously (or not so obviously), LW is in the civil war era while TP is modern. TP involves animals more directly than LW. Both sets of sisters get into scrapes, but the Penderwicks get into more, and the March sisters' scrapes are more social awkwardities than problems such as losing people/creatures or making a terrible mess in other people's houses.

These things are quite minor in comparison to the similarities, in my humble opinion. I conclude, that if TP was not based on LW, it is very coincidentally close in characters and setting. I heartily recommend both!
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  1. I've never heard of the Penderwicks books, but they sound quite interesting. As for your comparisons, I think they made a lot of sense. Hmmm...I wonder if Jeffrey will end up marrying the youngest sister. :)

    1. They're really fun. I know! I'm excited to read the last one when it comes out!

  2. I have been told I must read The Penderwicks. They seem fun.

    1. It's true! Vous devez, as the French say it.


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