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Drawing on new materials, letters, and family papers, Eve LaPlante restores Abba May Alcott to her rightful position as nurturing mother and friend to Louisa May Alcott, her daughter and the author of Little Women and many other books. LaPlante fills in the missing background on Abba's life: her wealthy (for a time) family, her close relationship to her crusading abolitionist brother, Samuel Joseph May, and her extraordinary lifelong support and guidance of all her family, especially Louisa.
The family member who does not come off especially well here is her husband, Bronson Alcott. With an ego the size of Concord or maybe Boston, Bronson did not feel "called" to work or support his family. He had to have space to think, after all, so he would leave Abba with three children under 10 (and no money) so that he could rent a room in downtown Philadelphia or Boston for months at a time and work on his intellectual development.
For Bronson, bringing in money was the job of Abba and her daughters. So Anna taught school, Louisa sewed and wrote, May gave lessons, and Abba worked as a social worker and begged what support she could from family and friends. Marmee and Louisa tells the story of these hardworking women and their extended family in the context of the social and political turmoil of their times. It's an excellent listen.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
The book touched me deeply as a mother of three
daughters. I loved it.