Author(s): Eve LaPlante
Based on newly uncovered family papers, this groundbreaking and intensely moving portrait of Louisa May Alcott's relationship with her mother will completely transform our understanding of one of America's most beloved authors. Since its release nearly 150 years ago, Louisa May Alcott's classic "Little Women" has been a mainstay in American literature, while passionate Jo March and her calm, beloved "Marmee" have shaped generations of young women. Biographers have consistently credited her father, Bronson Alcott, for Louisa's professional success, assuming that this outspoken idealist was the source of her progressive thinking and remarkable independence. But in this riveting dual biography, Eve LaPlante explodes those myths, drawing on unknown and unexplored letters and journals to show that Louisa's "Marmee," Abigail May Alcott, was in fact the intellectual and emotional center of her daughter's world. It was Abigail who urged Louisa to write, who inspired many of her stories, and who gave her the support and courage she needed to pursue her unconventional path. Abigail, long dismissed as a quiet, self-effacing companion to her famous husband and daughter, is revealed here as a politically active feminist firebrand, a fascinating thinker in her own right. Examining family papers, archival documents, and diaries thought to have been destroyed, LaPlante paints an exquisitely moving and utterly convincing portrait of a woman decades ahead of her time--and the fiercely independent daughter who was both inspired and restricted by her mother's dreams of freedom.
A story guaranteed to turn all previous scholarship on its head, "Marmee & Louisa" is a gorgeously written and deeply felt biography of two extraordinary women and a key to our understanding of Louisa May Alcott's life and work.
"'Reason and religion are emancipating woman from that intellectual thralldom that has so long held her captive.' That was the dearest hope of Louisa May Alcott's mother Abigail, who was a writer herself and juggled work and family in ways that will be strikingly familiar to many contemporary readers. "Marmee & Louisa" is the engrossing story of a vibrant, talented woman whose life and influence on her famous daughter has, until now, been erased."- Anne-Marie Slaughter, Bert G.. Kerstetter '66 University Professor of Politics and International Affairs, Princeton University