During the American Civil War 'Marmee' March brings up her four daughters whilst her husband serves as a pastor to the Union army. At their first Christmas without him they donate their food to the poverty-stricken Hummel family and are rewarded with a feast by their elderly neighbour Mr Laurence. Tomboy Jo reluctantly accompanies elder sister Meg to a dance, meeting Mr Laurence's lonely grandson Laurie and his tutor John Brooke, who invite them to a theatrical show. Angry not to have been invited by Jo youngest sister Amy burns the copies of stories written by Jo, causing a rift only healed after a skating accident when Jo resumes her writing. Whilst Meg and John get closer and shy Beth is allowed to play the Laurences; piano Marmee must go to Washington, where her husband is seriously ill, her fare being met by a sacrifice from Jo.
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