Louisa May Alcott
The Woman Behind Little Women
By Harriet Reisen
(Picador, Paperback, 9780312658878, 464pp.)
Publication Date: October 26, 2010
In a fresh, modern take on the remarkable Louisa May Alcott, Harriet Reisen’s vivid biography explores the author’s life in the context of her works, many of which are to some extent autobiographical. Although Alcott secretly wrote pulp fiction, harbored radical abolitionist views, and served as a Civil War nurse, her novels went on to sell more copies than those of Herman Melville and Henry James. Stories and details culled from Alcott’s journals, together with revealing letters to family, friends, and publishers, plus recollections of her famous contemporaries provide the basis for this lively account of the author’s classic rags-to-riches tale. In Louisa May Alcott, the extraordinary woman behind the beloved American classic Little Women is revealed as never before.
Harriet Reisen has written dramatic and historical scripts for PBS and HBO, including a recent PBS documentary on Louisa May Alcott. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and son.
For many readers, Louisa May Alcott is synonymous with her most famous character, Jo March, the spirited sister in Little Women. But author and filmmaker Harriet Reisen says Alcott's life "was no children's book." Reisen's The Woman Behind 'Little Women' premieres Monday night on PBS. More at NPR.org
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“At last, Louisa May Alcott has the biography that admirers of Little Women might have hoped for.” —The Wall Street Journal's Best 10 Books of the Year
“A magnificent new biography . . . a classic.” —The Washington Times“Fans will adore Harriet Reisen's sympathetic biography. . . .With charming verve, she details Alcott's remarkable if difficult life.” —USA Today “Superb . . . punctuates the myths of the Alcott family, rendering Louisa May with nuance.” —Chicago Tribune “A biography as vibrant as its subject.” —Vogue
“Reisen’s lifelong fascination with Little Women and the woman who wrote it has produced an absorbing narrative, in many ways the best ever, of Alcott’s own life. . . . The utterly compelling force of Alcott’s personality has never been better described. I found the book compulsively readable; I couldn’t put it down.” —Robert Richardson, author of Emerson: The Mind on Fire and Henry Thoreau: A Life of the Mind
“Brilliantly researched. . . . Her biography will occupy an essential place on any Alcott bookshelf.” —John Matteson, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Eden’s Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father
“A beautifully written, significant, and fascinating work. Harriet Reisen does with this biography what Alcott did with her writing—gives us a memorable and inspiring gift full of humanity, heart, and soul.” —Winona Ryder, producer and star of Little Women (1994)