From the Back Cover
The March sisters—reliable Meg, independent Jo, stylish Amy, and shy Beth—have grown up to pursue their separate dreams. When Jo followed her ambitions to New York City, she never thought her career in journalism would come crashing down, leaving her struggling to stay afloat in a gig economy as a prep cook and secret food blogger. Meg appears to have the life she always planned—the handsome husband, the adorable toddlers, the house in a charming subdivision. But sometimes getting everything you’ve ever wanted isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. When their mother’s illness forces the sisters home to North Carolina for the holidays, they’ll rediscover what really matters. One thing’s for sure—they’ll need the strength of family and the power of sisterhood to remake their lives and reimagine their dreams.
I was excited (and a little nervous, but mostly excited) to read MEG & JO, Virginia Kantra’s modern LITTLE WOMEN retelling. Given the well-known subject matter, it can be difficult to write a retelling that isn’t predictable, but Kantra is able to give Alcott’s tale a fresh update that is loyal to the original and still full of surprises.
MEG & JO is first and foremost a love story. Jo, living in New York, operates her own food blog while working as a prep cook at a fancy restaurant, where she begins a fling with the head chef, Eric. To me, this seemed exceptionally out of character for Jo, especially when Kantra’s Meg is nearly identical to Alcott’s–the responsible, level-headed eldest sister who married her sweetheart and had two young children. To see Meg so close to the original and Jo so unlike her counterpart in Alcott’s novel was a weird experience. I also really disliked Kantra’s portrayal of Mr. March; he cares deeply about the war veterans her volunteers with and his ministry, but to the point where he doesn’t help around the March house/farm and is an absentee husband and father (to all his girls except Jo). I understand Kantra wanting to make the story her own, but this seemed especially out of character for Mr. March.
There are definitely some things I would have done differently if I were to retell LITTLE WOMEN, but that’s part of the fun of reading a modern retelling like MEG & JO! Everyone has a different relationship with the text, and, after reading this novel, it’s clear that my version of LITTLE WOMEN is quite different from Virginia Kantra’s. All in all, MEG & JO is a fun read for any contemporary chick lit reader, even more so if you love LITTLE WOMEN (and are open to a little bit of authorial interpretation!). I am really looking forward to seeing more of what Kantra can do in her next installment, BETH & AMY!