Marmee & Louisa: The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother by Eve LaPlante
Based on newly uncovered family papers, this groundbreaking and intensely moving portrait of Louisa May Alcott’s relationship with her mother will completely transform our understanding of one of America’s most beloved authors.
Louisa May Alcott was one of the most successful and bestselling authors of her day, earning more than any of her male contemporaries. Her classic Little Women has been a mainstay of American literature since its release nearly 150 years ago, as Jo March and her calm, beloved “Marmee” have shaped and inspired generations of young women. Biographers have consistently attributed Louisa’s uncommon success to her father, Bronson Alcott, assuming that this outspoken idealist was the source of his daughter’s progressive thinking and remarkable independence.
But in this riveting dual biography, award-winning biographer Eve LaPlante explodes these myths, drawing from a trove of surprising new documents to show that it was Louisa’s actual “Marmee,” Abigail May Alcott, who formed the intellectual and emotional center of her world. Abigail, whose difficult life both inspired and served as a warning to her devoted daughters, pushed Louisa to excel at writing and to chase her unconventional dreams in a male-dominated world.
In Marmee & Louisa, LaPlante, Abigail’s great-niece and Louisa’s cousin, re-creates their shared story from diaries, letters, and personal papers, some recently discovered in a family attic and many others that were thought to have been destroyed. Here at last Abigail is revealed in her full complexity—long dismissed as a quiet, self-effacing background figure, she comes to life as a fascinating writer and thinker in her own right. A politically active feminist firebrand, she was a highly opinionated, passionate, ambitious woman who fought for universal civil rights, publicly advocating for abolition, women’s suffrage, and other defin-ing moral struggles of her era.
In this groundbreaking work, LaPlante paints an exquisitely moving and utterly convincing portrait of a woman decades ahead of her time, and the fiercely independent daughter whose life was deeply entwined with her mother’s dreams of freedom. This gorgeously written story of two extraordinary women is guaranteed to transform our view of one of America’s most beloved authors.
Eve LaPlante is a great niece and a first cousin of Abigail and Louisa May Alcott. She is the author of Seized, American Jezebel,and Salem Witch Judge, which won the 2008 Massachusetts Book Award for Nonfiction. She is also the editor of My Heart Is Boundless the first collection of Abigail May Alcott’s private papers. She lives with her family in New England.
Marmee & Louisa: The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother 4.3 out of 5based on
More than 1 year ago
LaPlante's discovering some family papers has enabled her to give readers a much more extensive view of Louisa May Alcott's Marmee than I've found elsewhere. Heretofore, Alcott's mother was a too-shadowy background figure in the family tapestry.
No more. LaPlante gives an enticing view of the parent who can now be understood to have profoundly influenced not merely the classic children's books written by her daughter but also her forthright personality and independent nature.
While I agree to some extent with reviewers elsewhere who've said Bronson Alcott is too harshly portrayed, the facts are that the man was highly irresponsible when it came to providing the least bit adequately for his family. LaPlante does give him some credit for having realized very much too late how woefully neglectful he had been. Sadly, he was a dreamer and never a doer, inhabiting castles in the air while those he professed to love suffered from poverty and emotional neglect.
An absolute must for those interested in the model for the beloved although idealized Marmee of Little Women.
More than 1 year ago
About alcott sample shows a very poor ink on font dim and as this has occured before and will buy in print