Marmee & Louisa

The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother

By Eve LaPlante
(Free Press, Hardcover, 9781451620665, 368pp.)

Publication Date: November 6, 2012

List Price: $26.00*
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Selected by Indie Booksellers for the November 2012 Indie Next List
“In this intriguing dual biography fans of Louisa May Alcott may be surprised to learn what a gifted writer her mother was. Despite the nearly nonexistent educational opportunities for young women of her time, Abigail read and wrote with fervor, and as she grew older, these skills became a passion. Her words enabled self-expression and the ability to question, both of which were unexpected of 19th century women. LaPlante's lineage – she is descended from the Alcott family – enriches her gifts as a talented chronicler, and telling the story of Louisa's life by examining that of her mother is a fascinating structure.”
-- Christopher Rose, Andover Bookstore, Andover, MA


Description

Louisa May Alcott was one of the most successful and bestselling authors of her day, earning more than any of her male contemporaries. Her classic Little Women has been a mainstay of American literature since its release nearly 150 years ago, as Jo March and her calm, beloved “Marmee” have shaped and inspired generations of young women. Biographers have consistently attributed Louisa’s uncommon success to her father, Bronson Alcott, assuming that this outspoken idealist was the source of his daughter’s progressive thinking and remarkable independence.

But in this riveting dual biography, award-winning biographer Eve LaPlante explodes these myths, drawing from a trove of surprising new documents to show that it was Louisa’s actual “Marmee,” Abigail May Alcott, who formed the intellectual and emotional center of her world. Abigail, whose difficult life both inspired and served as a warning to her devoted daughters, pushed Louisa to excel at writing and to chase her unconventional dreams in a male-dominated world.

In Marmee & Louisa, LaPlante, Abigail’s great-niece and Louisa’s cousin, re-creates their shared story from diaries, letters, and personal papers, some recently discovered in a family attic and many others that were thought to have been destroyed. Here at last Abigail is revealed in her full complexity—long dismissed as a quiet, self-effacing background figure, she comes to life as a fascinating writer and thinker in her own right. A politically active feminist firebrand, she was a highly opinionated, passionate, ambitious woman who fought for universal civil rights, publicly advocating for abolition, women’s suffrage, and other defin-ing moral struggles of her era.

In this groundbreaking work, LaPlante paints an exquisitely moving and utterly convincing portrait of a woman decades ahead of her time, and the fiercely independent daughter whose life was deeply entwined with her mother’s dreams of freedom. This gorgeously written story of two extraordinary women is guaranteed to transform our view of one of America’s most beloved authors.




About the Author
Eve LaPlante is the author of "Seized", "American Jezebel", and "Salem Witch Judge", the winner of the 2008 Massachusetts Book Award for Nonfiction.
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Marmee & Louisa

 

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