Marmee & Louisa: The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother

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Simon and Schuster, Nov 6, 2012 - Biography & Autobiography - 368 pages
26 Reviews
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.
  

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Review: Marmee and Louisa: The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother

User Review  - Robin Moore - Goodreads

Very surprised by this book. I had to read it for a class and thought it would be ho-hum. Instead I found it very interesting. Both Louisa May Alcott and her mother, Abigail May Alcott are very ... Read full review

Review: Marmee and Louisa: The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother

User Review  - Jill - Goodreads

A wonderful biography of both Louisa May Alcott and Abigail May Alcott, as well as the May family. Interesting and enlightening. Very well-written. I couldn't put it down! I especially enjoyed that it ... Read full review

All 2 reviews »

Contents

17
1
Drawing Toward Some Ideal Friend
28
Humiliating Dependence
50
Sacrifices Must Be Made
63
This Sharp Sorrow
87
Looking to My Daughters Labors
100
To Drag Lifes Lengthening Chain
112
The Best Woman in the World
133
The Bitter Drop in This
205
From May to March
217
Welcome to My Fortune
236
Thou Excellest Them
251
Stay By Louie
262
Believe in Dreams
295
Bibliography
301
16
338

Mother Is It You?
146
A Dead Decaying Thing
162
Left to Dig or
174
Paddle My Own Canoe
189
14
347
13
356
Copyright

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About the author (2012)

Eve LaPlante is a great niece and a first cousin of Abigail and Louisa May Alcott. She is the author of Seized, American Jezebel, and Salem Witch Judge, which won the 2008 Massachusetts Book Award for Nonfiction. She is also the editor of My Heart Is Boundless the first collection of Abigail May Alcott’s private papers. She lives with her family in New England.

Bibliographic information