cover image Louisa May Alcott: Her Girlhood Diary

Louisa May Alcott: Her Girlhood Diary

Louisa May Alcott. Bridgewater Books, $14.95 (56pp) ISBN 978-0-8167-3139-8

Written when Alcott was between the ages of 10 and 13, these lucid diary entries in essence provide a behind-the-scenes look at her classic novel, Little Women . Quotes from that novel, as well as Ryan's insightful annotations, reinforce the parallel between Alcott's fiction and her childhood years. Born in 1832, Alcott and her three sisters had a regimented upbringing on Fruitlands, the experimental Massachusetts farm begun by their father and a friend. After the farm failed, the family moved into the Concord home that became the model for the setting of Little Women . Here, Alcott ``at last got the little room I have wanted so long,'' in which she continued to sharpen her writing skills. According to Ryan, Alcott's father nurtured in her ``what she needed to become a writer: a love and mastery of language and a freedom and power of expression.'' On the basis of this volume--which contains a sampling of her heartfelt, strikingly sophisticated poetry--Alcott achieved these goals at an impressively young age. Polished, period paintings by Graham ( Roommates ; Lottie's Dream ) present affecting portraits of the girl who so eloquently expresses herself on these pages. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)