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Unhealthy fondness

Little Women, Philip Roth and the morally objectionable books that we love despite ourselves

By Hannah Rosefield  

A few years ago, I read Little Women for the first time in about a decade. It was December and I was in the Alps, which felt appropriate. Louisa May Alcott’s 1868 novel opens a few days before Christmas in snowy Massachusetts, with Jo March complaining that “Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents.” The March sisters are poor; their father recently lost most of his money and is now serving as a chaplain in the Civil War.

Little Women had been one of my favourite books as a child, and…

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