Book Review: Meg and Jo

Let's chat a little but about Christmas traditions. We all have them, right? All those of us that celebrate Christmas have their own traditions that they abide by, year in year out; things that it wouldn't feel like Christmas without, some that are lifelong and others that evolve as we do.

I love Christmas - from the first of December I am generally just so ready - I'm counting mince pies as 5 of my 5 a day and stock-piling advocaat and wearing aaaall the Christmas jumpers. I love it. Always have, hopefully always will. Although this year has been weird - and I have been feeling not so festive at all, it's just not clicking, and I''m not entirely sure why - I blame the election and the fact that that took away a hug chunk of festive build-up time. Maybe I'll be in the spirit by New Year.


When I was small our Christmas traditions were what made it magical - my parents rocked Christmas.
We went to a Christingle ceremony every year - and actually I might see if I can find one of those next year and take Molly. Does anything say Christmas like singing carols whilst holding an orange with a candle stuck in the middle? - and we'd have a shopping trip with each parent to buy a present for the other.
We'd exchange Christmas cards before the big day and we'd hang our stockings on our door handles at bedtime. Mum would read The Night Before Christmas to us at bedtime every Christmas Eve, right up to us being teenagers. I moved out when I was 18 and she was still reading it to us then. It's my favourite Christmas book. I read it to the cats last year.
On Christmas morning we'd open stockings in mum and dad's bed, have bacon buttys for breakfast and then open the rest of our gifts. I always get a book parcel from my parents and it's always the highlight and as a child I'd often spend a couple of hours on Christmas day curled up on the sofa reading before my Grandparents would arrive for a second gift exchange, Christmas dinner and board games before a huge paternal family party on Boxing Day and huge maternal family party on New Year's Day.

These days my traditions are different. My Christmas really does last almost the whole month - I have a gift exchange with my boyfriend in the middle of the month before he heads to France; I have a Christmas celebration with my friend Jane and her two children the weekend he leaves, and sometimes Father Christmas even comes to see us early; I spend Christmas Eve with my best friend and her family and wake up at their house on Christmas Day (and I cannot tell you what a privilege that feels like); after leaving there mid-morning on Christmas Day I chill out at home and watch Chalet Girl in my pyjamas and then do my last minute packing before I head over for family time; and then on Boxing Day I head to the airport, and to France where my boyfriend and I head to our favourite restaurant for tartiflette. It follows a pattern and it is my pattern and I love it.

One tradition that has remained constant though, since I was perhaps 8, is reading Little Women . It's not even that I think it's that good of a book, really - it's not my favourite book of all time ever, but it's familiar and it transports me to a time when I did think it was that good of a book and when I loved that there was a book about a girl called Josephine who loved to read and write. I always liked the later books more - Jo's Boys and Little Men and even Good Wives but Little Women was the one that I read that most and that came to mean Christmas to me in a way that no other book ever really did.

I didn't read it this Christmas.


I know.

I read Meg and Jo instead. Tempted away from my own tradition by a retelling. You know what though, it made for a refreshing change. The Little Women in this new version are grown, closer to my age and the setting is now, with current references and a new level of relatability. It felt nice to look at the story differently.

So what did I think? Really?

I liked it.

I liked Jo's part's better than Meg's but that's the case in the original too; I always cared more about Jo's story than any of her sisters. The girls are grown and Beth is alive so you know, that was a merry festive bonus.

Jo  - living in New York and working in a restaurant and writing a food blog - was excellent. All I hoped a modern day grown up Jo would be. She had fling with Laurie (known here as Trey) and then finds herself embroiled with the Chef at the restaurant she works out. Chef only turns out to be Bhaer. OH BE STILL MY HEART. I could have read a book about just the two of them. I was always Team Bhaer - Laurie was never right for Jo - and this book pitches him just right - his gruffness, his belief in Jo, his steady solid kind of a love. I am here for all of it, Jo and her burly tattooed chef. Her chapters weren't long or plentiful enough to the point that I was tempted to skim read Meg;s chapters just to get back to Jo.

Meg annoyed me. Her characterisation felt off. She's married to Brooke and they have the twins, Daisy and Demi-John. She's a stay-at-home Mum and she just bugged me the whole way through. I don't quite get what the take away was supposed to be from her story because she just came across as a stuck up,controlling, annoying woman and that's a shame. I felt for Brooke though, that guy could not catch a break and why he was being so sweet when she was such a bitch is beyond me. Perhaps it's because I couldn't relate to the life she was living but I just wasn't sympathetic towards her at all;  I thought she was a bit of a dick.

Also their Dad. Oh dear. The least said about that the better - we'll just leave it at that is not my Mr March.

Overall though, this was a fun read, I flew through it and it made a nice, refreshing change, it won't be a new tradition and I'll probably never read it again but I'm glad I broke my own rules for it this year.. There's going to be a sequel, about Beth and Amy and I am definitely so here for it.