Christmas, 1861. The March sisters - Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy - prepare for a Christmas without presents or their father, a Union army chaplain who is away at war.
Learning to appreciate the smaller things in life, the sisters strike up a friendship with their charming new neighbour Laurie, and his tutor John Brooke.
When the holidays are over Meg and Jo return to work so that they can provide for the family. By the new year, Amy and Jo are clashing over an invitation to the theatre and a rash act of revenge, until a life-threatening event encourages them to put their differences aside.
In the summer Beth struggles to overcome her social anxiety, while Meg grows closer to John.
As autumn of 1862 sets in, the family receives the terrible news: Mr March has been taken ill in an army hospital in Washington D.C. The girls anxiously await news of their father's fate, as their mother Marmee, accompanied by John, rushes to his side.