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. Since its release nearly 150 years ago, Louisa May Alcott's classicLittle Womenhas been a mainstay in American literature, while passionate Jo March and her calm, beloved Marmee have shaped generations of young women. Biographers have consistently credited her father, Bronson Alcott, for Louisa's professional success, assuming that this outspoken idealist was the source of her progressive thinking and remarkable independence. ''' But in this riveting dual biography, Eve LaPlante explodes those myths, drawing on unknown and unexplored letters and journals to show that Louisa's Marmee, Abigail May Alcott, was in fact the intellectual and emotional center of her daughter's world. It was Abigail who urged Louisa to write, who inspired many of her stories, and who gave her the support and courage she needed to pursue her unconventional path. Abigail, long dismissed as a quiet, self-effacing companion to her famous husband and daughter, is revealed here as a politically active feminist firebrand, a fascinating thinker in her own right.
In her compelling but ultimately disappointing dual biography of Louisa May Alcott and her mother, Abigail May Alcott, LaPlante (American Jezebel) admirably seeks to paint a fuller picture of Abigail and her role in Louisa's life. Born into a prominent New England family in 1800, Abigail read widely as a child and, with the encouragement of her beloved older brother, Samuel Joseph, pursued an education; she would also follow his interest in reform movements, such as abolition. Though she originally favored the idea of teaching or writing over marriage, Abigail met "unconventional" teacher A. Bronson Alcott in 1827 and married him-a love match that quickly devolved into a peripatetic life of poverty. As their family grew to include four daughters, Abigail spent most of her time earning money and managing their household, while also fighting chronic illness. Louisa followed suit, though Abigail consistently encouraged her daughter to write as a means of expression. This turned into a vocation, and Louisa's success with Little Women afforded the Alcotts their first taste of financial security. LaPlante allows her protagonists to speak for themselves through copious quotes from private journals and letters, though this doesn't always lead to cogent storytelling. Nevertheless, the book is likely to spur further scholarship on the inspiration for the beloved "Marmee." Agent: Lane Zachary, Zachary Shuster Harmsworth. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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November 06, 2012
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