cover image Louisa May Alcott: Selected Fiction

Louisa May Alcott: Selected Fiction

Louisa May Alcott, Daniel Shealy. Little Brown and Company, $24.95 (478pp) ISBN 978-0-316-78349-1

One of the most prolific authors of her day, Alcott (1832-1888) is popularly identified with Little Women. Compiled by the editors of her journals, letters and A Double Life: Newly Discovered Thrillers of Louisa May Alcott , this anthology displays the range of her fiction. Raised in an impoverished, fiercely intellectual New England home according to transcendentalist principles, Alcott vented a fertile imagination and satisfied a need for money by producing romances, often under a pseudonym, for a ready audience. One of these, ``The Rival Prima Donnas,'' though staid by contemporary norms, bespeaks Alcott's storyteller's passion. Alcott's later, realistic narratives, often with macabre themes, are represented in ``Hope's Debut,'' with its shadow of incest and a curiously modern note in its theatrical background. Readers view the evolution of a thoughtful, expressive woman who wrote about war, race relations and the state of being single as well as about family. (Jan.)