Marmee & Louisa: The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother

Eve LaPlante. Free Press, $26 (384p) ISBN 978-1-4516-2066-5
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.)
Reviewed on: 08/13/2012
Release date: 11/06/2012
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Paperback - 368 pages - 978-1-4516-2067-2
Open Ebook - 304 pages - 978-1-4516-2068-9
MP3 CD - 978-1-4526-6046-2
Compact Disc - 978-1-4526-4046-4
Compact Disc - 978-1-4526-1046-7
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