Synopses & Reviews
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 andlt;Iandgt;Little Women andlt;/Iandgt;has been a mainstay of American literature since its release nearly 150 years ago, as Jo March and her calm, beloved and#8220;Marmeeand#8221; have shaped and inspired generations of young women. Biographers have consistently attributed Louisaand#8217;s uncommon success to her father, Bronson Alcott, assuming that this outspoken idealist was the source of his daughterand#8217;s progressive thinking and remarkable independence. andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;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 Louisaand#8217;s actual and#8220;Marmee,and#8221; 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. andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;In andlt;Iandgt;Marmee andamp; Louisa, andlt;/Iandgt;LaPlante, Abigailand#8217;s great-niece and Louisaand#8217;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 complexityand#8212;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, womenand#8217;s suffrage, and other defin-ing moral struggles of her era. andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;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 motherand#8217;s dreams of freedom. This gorgeously written story of two extraordinary women is guaranteed to transform our view of one of Americaand#8217;s most beloved authors.
"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." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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 classic Little Women has 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. Examining family papers, archival documents, and diaries thought to have been destroyed, LaPlante paints an exquisitely moving and utterly convincing portrait of a woman decades ahead of her time—and the fiercely independent daughter who was both inspired and restricted by her mother’s dreams of freedom.
A story guaranteed to turn all previous scholarship on its head, Marmee & Louisa is a gorgeously written and deeply felt biography of two extraordinary women and a key to our understanding of Louisa May Alcott’s life and work.
About the Author
andlt;Bandgt;Eve LaPlanteandlt;/Bandgt; is a great niece and a first cousin of Abigail and Louisa May Alcott. She is the author of andlt;iandgt;Seizedandlt;/iandgt;,andlt;iandgt; American Jezebelandlt;/iandgt;,andlt;iandgt; andlt;/iandgt;andandlt;iandgt; Salem Witch Judgeandlt;/iandgt;, which won the 2008 Massachusetts Book Award for Nonfiction. She is also the editor of andlt;iandgt;My Heart Is Boundless andlt;/iandgt;the first collection of Abigail May Alcottand#8217;s private papers. She lives with her family in New England.