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 and Louisa is a gorgeously written and deeply felt biography of two extraordinary women as well as a key to our understanding of Louisa May Alcott's life and work.
"A most original love story, taut and tender." (Stacy Schiff, author of Cleopatra: A Life)
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Hardworking women and the man they supported
This book is a history lesson.
- Ray Chanley