What would the beloved characters from Louisa May Alcott’s classic Little Women be up to if their story took place today? That’s the premise behind the innovative Meg & Jo (Berkley) by Virginia Kantra.

The title marks the first foray into women’s fiction for Kantra, the New York Times bestselling author of over 30 novels spanning multiple genres. The book is a contemporary take on Little Women told through two of the four March sisters’ perspectives — reliable Meg and independent Jo.

Meg March has it all, the ideal life she has always wished for — a handsome husband, beautiful toddlers and an adorable suburban home to live out her happily ever after. Despite her picture-perfect life, she’s struggling with her role as a stay-at-home mom. Her sister Jo has aspirations of making it big as a journalist in New York City, but her dreams are not going according to plan. Now as a prep cook-slash-secret food blogger, Jo struggles to find her place within the ever-evolving landscape of the Big Apple.

When their mother’s health takes a turn for the worse, the sisters find themselves reunited back home in North Carolina just before the holidays. In time, the two begin to realize that as long as they have each other they can get through anything.

Asked about the enduring legacy of the March sisters, Kantra explains, “I think we’re nostalgic for stories that make us feel good. There’s something about a family pulling together in tough times that reassures us and reminds us who we can be.”

Kantra says her version “is a sisters’ book — part family story, part coming-of-age novel and part romance. I approached the modern retelling as women’s fiction, making Meg and Jo in their late twenties, what I think of as the contemporary age for grappling with adulthood.”

Little Women has held a special place in Kantra’s heart since childhood. Her admiration stemmed from a cherished copy of the novel given to her by her grandmother.

At the time, she says, “I wanted to go live with the Marches. Partly because they seemed to have such fun together, but mostly because of Jo, the smart, quirky sister who wants to be a writer. Here was a story with a girl I could identify with.”

“The sisters deal with all the things I was dealing with — sisterly love and sibling rivalry, work and motherhood, that tension between following your passion and making money.”

Meg & Jo isn’t so much about if or who the sisters will marry — although they have to work that out, too—but about who they will become.”

In writing her contemporary version of the classic, Kantra says, “I wanted to be true to the warmth and charm of the original, but also make the story fresh and compelling for readers discovering these characters for the first time. There are moments in there that I hope my fellow Alcott fans will find, like little presents under the tree. But the setting, the conflict and the characters in Meg and Jo had to stand on their own.”

“At its heart, the story celebrates the sisters — all the sisters, even Amy. It’s all about the diversity of women’s dreams and the strength of sisterhood. Which is what I really wanted to dig into: the different models we can embrace as women.”

Meg & Jo is now available for purchase.

New York Times bestselling author Virginia Kantra is the author of more than 30 novels. Her stories have earned numerous awards including two Romance Writers of America’s RITA Awards, ten RITA nominations and two National Readers’ Choice Awards. Carolina Dreaming, the fifth book in her Dare Island series, won the 2017 RITA Award for Best Contemporary Romance – Midlength and was named one of BookPage’s Top Ten Romance Novels of 2016. She is a firm believer in the strength of family, the importance of storytelling and the power of love. Her favorite thing to make for dinner? Reservations.