This biography of Louisa May Alcott was a well-written, enjoyable read. Harriet Reisen gave a chronological account of the Alcott's lives while relating how the national events of the time effected them and how they influenced history (through their Transcendental movement, abolition movement, etc.). She also worked in many quotes taken from letters and the personal journals kept by each member of the family.
The first 87 pages were mainly about Louisa's parents (Abby and Bronson) and their friends. If you're interested in Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Thoreau, and other famous Transcendentalists, you'll probably enjoy this section more than I did. I was continually exasperated with her parents and, while I saw the value of showing the influences Louisa grew up with and how they affected her writing, I didn't like her parents and wanted to get on to focusing on Louisa.
From page 88 to 302, Harriet Reisen focused on Louisa and, to a lesser degree, her sisters. This section was lively and very fun to read though Louisa didn't have a very easy life. I liked how Harriet Reisen let us see Louisa's faults as well as her strong points and how she tied Louisa's experiences to her books: Louisa would often take real life events and work them into fictional accounts.
The rest of the book was references and notes about the quotes and information. There were no pictures. I would have at least enjoyed a picture of Louisa.
There was no bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable biography to anyone who loves Louisa May Alcott's novels and wants to know more about her.
I received this book as a review copy from the publisher.
Reviewed by Debbie from Different Time, Different Place (differenttimedifferentplace. blogspot. com)
I have read my share of books on Louisa May Alcott as she is a favorite author, along with Lucy Maud Montgomery. It seems to me that they both have so much in common, starting with the fact that they both presented a very different "public" image and face than the one they really wore in their personal lives. Louisa May Alcott, written by Harriet Reisen manages to look pass through all the public stuff that we have been fed for years and manages to dig deep to explain to us … more
Despite never having read "Little Women," I managed to obtain, over the years, a general understanding of the book's plot and characters by reading about its author and her most famous novel. The Alcott family, with its numerous connections to the literary elite and thinkers of its day, has long fascinated me but it is only in recent years that I have become curious about the work of Louisa May Alcott herself. My interest was particularly peaked, I think, by Geraldine Brooks' "March," a wonderful … more
Children have been brought up with Louisa May Alcott stories for generations. I recall reading them along with my Nancy Drew books. I then re-read them as a young adult. Louisa was a mesmerizing story teller and Harriet Reisen has honored Ms.Alcott with this very well written & well researched book. This is a biography that reads as gently and as absorbingly as any well written fiction. I learned so much about Louisa! Louisa's father seems to have been rather self-absorbed in his own schemes & dreams … more
I review books, do organic gardening (vegetables, fruit trees, etc.), mentor a young lady, and work with inmates at the local jail and state prison units. I live in a passive solar house (with an active … more
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SignatureReviewed byBrenda WineappleHailed as the first complete biography of Louisa May Alcott despite the fine previous work of Madeline Stern and Martha Saxton, Harriet Reisen's Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women does valiantly portray the beloved author as a stalwart woman whose life, as Reisen succinctly puts it, was no children's book. The daughter of impecunious transcendentalist Bronson Alcott and long-suffering Abigail May, as a girl Louisa Alcott watched her father preach esoteric uplift while practicing the penury that impoverished the family. Bronson's redeeming trait, Reisen speculates, may have been temporary insanity. The sadder case was Alcott's mother—the model for Marmee inLittle Women—an intelligent woman harnessed to a man in search of the ineffable and, on occasion, young female acolytes. Louisa appointed herself the Golden Goose of these needy nurturers. Churning out what Reisen calls the chick-lit of its day to provide her mother and sisters the material comforts she never had, Alcott also used her imagination, according to Reisen, to escape the confines of ordinary life, although for Bronson Alcott's daughter, ordinary life was not all that ordinary; Reisen calculates that the family moved at least 30 times by Alcott's 20s. The ordeals of childhood were transmuted into rich literary endowments, Reisen explains. Alcott also wrote to earn parental approval; no longer was she a tomboy with a temper, though...