Well, since Ritsumei already posted a wonderful break down of the character list and summaries, I'll start with my thoughts and initial ponderings.
So far there are lots of things that I like about this book. I like the world that Louisa May Alcott has created in Little Women; such a wonderful family and home. I like the dynamics between the sisters. I was amused by the description of the King children and the pointed timing of it. After having spent the first few pages of the book detailing just how poor the March family was, yet concluding that despite it all, they were happy, I thought the stark contrast in description of the wealthy King children, "... fighting and fretting all the time, in spite of their money", (pg.5) was very telling of Louisa May Alcott's position on what brings happiness.
Overall, I think her characters are diverse and very interesting, with just the right touch of realisim thrown in so they are believeable. They're not super developed yet, but we've only just had a taste thus far.
One of the questions that we have over there on our list of questions to ponder is: "Does the author have an agenda" or "Does this book have a theme"?
I don't think the words "agenda" or even "theme" are quite the right word that I would use to describe the approach Louisa May Alcott uses with this book, I think "tone" might be a better word. But already I am definitely seeing a very strong tenor of Christianity in the writing of Little Women. (not that i think that's a bad thing or that i disagree with her clearly stated opinion of the goodness of it) Mostly, it's something I noticed. I rather like the unabashed way she clearly promotes an active Christian lifestyle (meaning the doing of service, the general improving of one's self and being happy with life even when it's not what is generally accepted as perfect) And I find it interesting how different that is from uses of that theme in more recent literature. I think Christianity and productivity is still a predominant theme in many books. However, I feel that today it is more likely that the approach to that sort of theme would be either laid out almost apologetically, or it would be the bash-the-reader-over-the-head-with-how-THIS-is-what-they-should-be-doing. Louisa May Alcott's approach is more matter of fact, almost understated; just another aspect of life at the March house. I think it probable that this is a result of the "Realism" movement that Ritsumei touched on.
I like it.