10 March 2010

Louisa May Alcott, the woman behind Little Women

Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women by Harriet Reisen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

American Bloomsbury was the appetizer, then this book is the meal. Louisa May Alcott's father, Bronson Alcott, was a true American original: a deplorably-bad writer and a sensational orator who travelled the country speaking about Transcendentalism in-between living in disastrous utopian communities that were based more on philosophy than the mere, mortal details of farming and human nature.

Louisa's life flowed from that childhood, both the joyous (loving Henry David Thoreau) and the horrific (near-starvation and grisly poverty). Her talent for writing potboilers saved her and her family from the ruinous debts that had been incurred by Bronson's inability to provide for his family. However, not until she acceded to her family and editor's desire for her to write for children did she find the voice that would bring her unimaginable wealth and fame.

Harriet Riesen's book is nicely done - factual without droning, and admiring without doting. I greatly enjoyed the details of Louisa's trips overseas, partly because the writing is so wonderful, and partly because (warning: subjectivity ahead) it made me happy to know that Louisa had been happy.

(Note to Riesen's editor: Daisy and Demi were Meg's children, not Jo's. Ah well.)

(Note to self: next time, don't be so hasty to judge a book....)


Lost City Denise said...

hmmmm may have to give this a whirl, along with maybe a LW reread.

Love the recent spurt of reviews!

I joined Goodreads lately...took forever to list most of the last ten years of books.

Mary said...

Another one to add to my reading list!

Daphne said...

I love LMA and have always wanted to go to Concord to see where Emerson and Thoreau and Louisa lived... glad to know this was good, since Little Women ranks up there in my Favorite Books Of All Time. I read American Bloomsbury and enjoyed it; I may have to read this one sometime! It will fall into my lap at the correct moment, I have no doubt.

Bridget said...

A trip to Concord is well worth it.

esuzabeth said...

Glad I saw this post. I've been contemplating listening to all her books recorded for librivox.org. Now I'm even more interested.