A Look Back At Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women (And Its Movie Adaptations)

Little Women – Book covers. Image Credits: Penguin Books

In my Five Books To Read During The Holiday Season article I have mentioned Little Women, one of the most beloved classics of all time written by Louisa May Alcott and originally published in two volumes (1868-1869).

I first read this novel when I was about ten years old because my mom gifted me a collection of literary classics that included Little Women and its sequel, Little Men. Since I was born and raised in Italy, my first copy was an Italian edition which I still own, even though it now shows many signs of wear and tear because I have read it multiple times over the years. A few years ago I also bought a beautiful American edition which is part of the Barnes & Noble Leatherbound Classics and I have already read it twice since then.

What is it about Little Women that has made the book so precious for so many different generations over the decades? Probably this is also due to the fact that it was one of the first books to focus on female characters; it seems that men are more like supporting characters in the lives of the female protagonists, and, even though it is narrated in the third person, the book tends to tell the events mainly from the point of view of the March sisters.

The March sisters – Little Women (2019). Image Credits: Sony Pictures Entertainment

The story is set in the 1860s and begins during the American Civil War; Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy March live in the small town of Concord, Massachusetts (where Louisa May Alcott also wrote the book), and the first chapter introduces the sisters who are preparing to face a Christmas of hardships because of the war, with many concerns due to the fact that their father serves as chaplain for the Union Army. The March sisters have very distinct personalities but are united by the deep affection they feel for each other; Meg, the eldest (she is sixteen when the story begins), is very rational and feels responsible to the other sisters. Together with Jo, she works to support them all; while she is employed as a governess by a family in the neighborhood, Jo assists her wealthy aunt March, who lives alone in a mansion. Jo is stubborn and very outspoken; she loves writing stories, some of which will be published by local newspapers to provide financial support for the family.


Murder On The Orient Express

Image Credits: Harper UK

“The impossible could not have happened, therefore the impossible must be possible in spite of appearances.”

During the course of last summer I read my second Agatha Christie book and I really enjoyed it; Death On The Nile is a great mystery novel and I have also reviewed it on the blog. While I really appreciated the twists and the setting, reading Murder On The Orient Express, my third Agatha Christie book, has been an even better experience, since I was already familiar with the character of Hercule Poirot and the writer’s style.

To me, this book confirmed Agatha Christie’s genius in building the plot and creating the right amount of suspense in the process of solving the case. I am very fascinated by the fact that, even though this novel was published in 1934, it feels very modern and the language used by Christie makes you feel like you were reading a modern novel, as if it were set in present times.

The book takes place aboard the Orient Express, a train that used to connect the Middle East to Europe in the first decades of the 20th century. The famous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot is traveling from Istanbul to London by train, along with a series of passengers that make for very interesting characters; they come from all different places and each of them has their secrets and peculiar traits. When a murder occurs, Poirot and the other passengers find themselves stuck on the train while traveling through Yugoslavia due to a heavy snowfall and it is very likely that the murderer is still on board.

As Poirot begins to investigate the murder, which immediately appears to be related to a crime case in the USA that occurred a few years before the events in the book, the passengers are being interrogated by the detective, and it is clear from the outset that most of them have something to hide… During this investigation, Poirot is accompanied by Monsieur Bouc, his old friend and director of the Wagon Lits; while Bouc immediately jumps to conclusions about who the perpetrator of the murder might be, Poirot prefers to wait until he is well informed about the facts before expressing an opinion on the matter.


Christmas Time In Milan

Milan - Christmas Time.
Navigli – Annual Christmas lighting

The Christmas season in Milan is one of the most beautiful times to visit the city. I was born and raised here, but it’s only in recent years that Milan has really developed on a tourist level on par with cities like London, Paris or New York (or Rome, if we are referring to Italian tourism).

The city offers a number of activities to do and places to visit at Christmas, especially in the historic center. Like every year, there are Christmas markets near Piazza Duomo, but if you are looking for something more traditional and immersive, you can also head to Rho Fiera, where the annual Craft Fair (Artigiano in Fiera) is held and where you can also participate in food tastings.

During the festive period the entire city is illuminated by lights, from the Navigli neighborhood to the Duomo cathedral area. The Darsena district is full of events and stalls, as well as places dedicated to street food, while in the city center a Christmas tree has been set up in every main square; some of the trees are sponsored by luxury brands and will remain until January 6 to bring a joyous atmosphere to Milan.

This year the tree that lights up Piazza Duomo comes from the Italian region of Trentino Alto Adige. It was supposed to be cut down, but cosmetics maker VeraLab has chosen to give it a second life; the tree is decorated with a series of energy-efficient LED lights, and the expense incurred for the energy used will be donated to a local shelter. The tree has been named Pina and I find it beautiful, with its pink lights that make the atmosphere warm and welcoming. This helps to reaffirm pink in all its shades as a 2022 trend that we will definitely carry into 2023.

The tree located in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II was set up by Swarovski as usual, super sparkling under the dome of the octagon and near which the storefront of the historic Marchesi pastry shop displays great Christmas installations.

Pink Christmas Tree and Duomo.
VeraLab Christmas tree and the Duomo at night
Swarovski Christmas Tree - Galleria Vittorio Emanuele.
Swarovski Christmas tree – Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
Marchesi 1824 - Christmas Time.
Marchesi 1824 – Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

The streets of the Fashion District (Quadrilatero della Moda) were illuminated by lights, especially the Loro Piana palace, on whose façade was installed a giant Christmas lighting in the shape of a snowflake. Store windows are also decorated according to seasonal themes, such as Rolex and its mini Christmas tree. Pasticceria Cova on Via Montenapoleone displayed its Christmas-themed cake creations, a series of artistic masterpieces of the highest quality with Christmas greetings written on them.

Continuing down Via Manzoni, I spotted the historic Grand Hotel et de Milan (which has undergone renovations in recent years and whose entrance is now illuminated by Christmas lights), where my family and I would often hang out for work over the years because presentations and press days of a fashion brand we represented would be held here. I also attended the launching of some fashion collections at the hotel during sales campaign and Milan Fashion Week.


Five Favorite Christmas Movies (+ Honorable Mentions)

Image Credits: Theo Crazzolara

I love watching Christmas movies during Christmas time, and even though it is nice to discover new ones, I am very fond of the classics that I used to watch as a child. There are many Christmas movies coming out every year and it is almost impossible to pick the ones to watch; I usually see up to five movies among the are coming out or the old ones that I haven’t seen yet, but what I enjoy most is rewatching my favorite Christmas movies, which are also some of the most beloved and internationally known. I will probably rewatch a couple of the movies I am mentioning in this article and I also plan to marathon the Harry Potter series during the holidays because it is great to watch these movies in the wintertime.

Here are some of the Christmas movies I have enjoyed throughout the years:

Image Credits: Universal Pictures

1) How The Grinch Stole Christmas (Ron Howard, 2000): this is one of the most famous Christmas classics ever made. It is based on the eponymous children tale by Dr. Seuss which was previously adapted into an animated TV movie in 1966 . The magical land of Whoville exists inside a snowflake, where the Whos live and love to celebrate Christmas; they basically count down the entire year until Christmas day. The Grinch is a green creature who lives just outside Whoville and has despised Christmas time ever since he self-isolated on Mount Crumpit when he was still a child, after his classmates made fun of him for his hairy aspect. Cindy, a young girl who comes from a loving family, decides to befriend the Grinch and wants to involve him in the festivities, but when something goes wrong with the Whos, he plans to ruin Christmas day for everyone. The Grinch is played brilliantly by Jim Carrey, who is absolutely hilarious in this role. The story is very heartwarming and it does a great job in emphasizing the importance of spending time with loved ones during the holiday season. It is also a visually exceptional movie, with a great set design that makes everything feel really magical. It is a movie that stands the test of time and it will probably be appreciated by people of all ages.

Image Credits: Universal Pictures

2) Love Actually (Richard Curtis, 2003): one of the most famous romantic comedies ever made, it follows eight different couples who are managing their love lives in various interconnected plots all set in the hectic month before Christmas. These stories take place in London and the cast is terrific, as it includes many famous actors and actresses like Keira Knightley, Liam Neeson, Hugh Grant and Emma Thompson. It is a very powerful movie that is all about love and its numerous meanings; its storylines are well developed and the lives of all these people are connected by love. It is both touching and funny thanks to great performances by all the cast members; I have watched Love Actually with my family during the holiday season almost every year since it first came out because it is very intelligent and it perfectly embodies the meaning of Christmas. It is heartwarming and sweet; there is that certain something about the film that makes it a staple of the Christmas genre and one feels compelled to watch it every year in the wintertime, as it is filled with romantic moments and tender gestures we can all identify with in one way or another.