Susan Cheever's comprehensive and definitive biography sheds new light on of life of Louisa May Alcott, whose work has inspired generations of women.
"The author of American Bloomsbury (2007), a collective biography of the extraordinary clutch of creative types who lived in nineteenth-century Concord, Massachusetts (Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, etc.), Cheever revisits this familiar territory but this time focuses on only one of these talents, Louisa May Alcott. The author of Little Women seems to be an irresistible subject for biographers, since hers was a life filled with fascinating associations, an extraordinary family, poverty, dazzling success, declining health, and more (who says authors' lives are dull?). Unfortunately, Cheever plows no new ground here and tacitly admits so by regularly acknowledging the more original work of earlier biographers. Too, she tends to inflate Alcott's literary importance, as in the case of her purported influence on Henry James. All that said, hers is a smoothly written and sympathetic introduction to this always fascinating woman who was both a celebrated writer and an early and stalwart champion of women's rights.--Michael Cart Copyright 2020 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"Little Women was the idea of Alcott's publisher, who bullied her into writing it. Louisa may, Cheever speculates, have taken revenge on Bronson Alcott-a friend of the great Transcendentalists, but an irresponsible and browbeating father-by leaving him out of her semiautobiographical masterpiece. A revolutionary educator whose uncompromising high-mindedness made him a financial failure, Bronson was critical of and often punished the rebellious Louisa. But his close friendships with men like Emerson and Thoreau blessed Louisa with a unique circle of mentors, whom Cheever depicted in American Bloomsbury. Alcott gradually lost everyone dear to her: her beloved sister Lizzie died at 22, and her sister Anna's marriage felt like a betrayal. Struggling so hard for wealth and fame that when it came she was too ill and weary to enjoy it, Louisa never married and died two days after Bronson. Cheever laces this provocative biography with musings on the genesis of genius, and her identification with Jo March when she was a rebellious girl in the throes of puberty. While some may find Cheever's digressions and self-referencing grating, most will savor this work-surely a future book club staple-as keen, refreshing, and authoritative. 8 pages of b&w photos. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Alcott, Louisa May,
-- 19th century
|| New York :Simon & Schuster,2010
||1st Simon & Schuster hardcover ed.
xv, 298 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Includes bibliographical references (pages -278) and index.