Louisa May Alcott's Little Women is often mentioned by readers/critics in lists of top American literary classics.
Little Women is also a great hit with crossword setters. The words "little woman" in a cryptic clue generally mean one of the four sisters from the novel - Meg, Jo, Beth, or Amy. Small in length, with a good combination of letters - those names are a delight to crossword setters.
The icing on the cake is their surname "March", another immensely pun-friendly word.
A few clues that refer to the March sisters:
Times 24514: Little woman coming in to pack, heading west to a holiday island (7) MAJORCA
JO (little woman) in CRAM (pack) <- A
Times 24484: Little woman embracing the object of friendship (5) AMITY
AMY (little woman) around IT (the object)
Times 23806: March girl round icy track, initially to generate warmth (5) AMITY
AMY (March girl) around initial letters of "icy track"
- JO and AMY are the livelier, more active sisters in the novel; so they are in crosswords too. "Little woman" is more frequently JO or AMY than MEG or BETH.
- Don Manley uses the Little Women reference quite a bit (noticed this in his puzzles of the past two years). If you're solving one of his works, be on the lookout!
Times 24259: Little woman’s kept second person happy (6)
Times 24250: Popular little woman arrested following bad report (6)
Times 23863: Marches men to well - it has been moved (6,5)
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