*I was given a copy of Belittled Women in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to HarperCollins and Amanda Sellet*
Lit’s about to hit the fan. Jo Porter has had enough Little Women to last a lifetime. As if being named after the sappiest family in literature wasn’t sufficiently humiliating, Jo’s mom, ahem Marmee, leveled up her Alcott obsession by turning their rambling old house into a sad-sack tourist attraction.
Now Jo, along with her siblings, Meg and Bethamy (yes, that’s two March sisters in one), spends all summer acting out sentimental moments at Little Women Live!, where she can feel her soul slowly dying.
So when a famed photojournalist arrives to document the show, Jo seizes on the glimpse of another life: artsy, worldly, and fast-paced. It doesn’t hurt that the reporter’s teenage son is also eager to get up close and personal with Jo–to the annoyance of her best friend, aka the boy next door (who is definitely not called Laurie). All Jo wants is for someone to see the person behind the prickliness and pinafores.
But when she gets a little too real about her frustration with the family biz, Jo will have to make peace with kitsch and kin before their livelihood suffers a fate worse than Beth.
I was really looking forward to reading Belittled Women but unfortunately, it really fell short for me. At first, I wasn’t sure if it was because I’ve never read Little Women before so I’m not familiar with the characters it is inspired by, but honestly, that wasn’t it. This just wasn’t engaging, which is a real shame. There isn’t anything wrong with the writing, it’s well-written, but the story wasn’t as interesting as the synopsis promised.
The characters were somewhat insufferable and Jo in particular thought she was way better than everyone else. Funnily the sister I liked most was Amy, even though the story was told from Jo’s point of view and she really didn’t like her. At least Amy actually cared about the family business and wanted to help make it better.
I get that it’s probably quite an embarrassing thing to be part of when you’re a teenager, but when it comes to family I feel like you need to let that slide. If both of Jo’s sisters got on fine at school while being part of the show why did she seem to think she was suffering from it? That did not make sense to me.
The romance was a non-starter for me. It feel completely flat and I didn’t care about Jo enough to want her to have a romantic interest. Dating your sister’s ex just weeks after they broke up is weird, even if she was ok with it.
I’ll admit the turn the book took in the latter part with the article was good, but it didn’t really go anywhere. There was no fallout from it and it was all but forgotten by the end.
I’m actually so sad to be talking about this negatively as it was a highly anticipated read for me. Win some, lose some I suppose.
Right, I’m going to end this review on a positive note and say that I really love the cover. Apologies that this is one of the only positive things I had to say about Belittled Women, but unfortunately it was ok at best. It wasn’t completely terrible though so I will give it a generous three stars.
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