Tuesday, February 5, 2013

by Eve LaPlante

When Louisa May Alcott died on March 6, 1888, at the age of fifty-five, she was the most popular author in the country. She was quite prolific having written twenty-four novels, hundreds of stories, and articles for newspapers and magazines. Little Women would make her quite wealthy and brought her family out of poverty. It was always assumed that Bronson Alcott, Louisa's father, was the source behind her brilliance, that he was the one who influenced her to write. Author, Eve LaPlante, who is the niece of Louisa and the great-niece of Abigail, discovered from reading family correspondence that it was Abigail who nurtured Louisa and encouraged her to write.
Abigail was a writer in her own right and her diaries and letters display her beautiful prose. She worked to abolish slavery, fought for women to be educated (she, herself was a teacher), to have the right to vote, and to elevate themselves in society. Louisa mined her mother's writings and used them for her fiction. When she had her first book published at sixteen years of age, she dedicated it to Abigail. The two of them were so intertwined that they became each other's support especially when Bronson was absent from their home for months at a time. He was an idealist and didn't believe in supporting the family so they were constantly begging for money from relatives. Louisa vowed to always provide for her mother and be there for her.
When I was a young girl, I read Little Women a thousand times over. I couldn't get enough of this book. I loved the writing, the characters, the setting.  Marmee & Louisa takes you deep within the Alcotts and you see how they figure into the story. "Marmee" was as vibrant in real life as she was in fiction. Abigail is finally brought out of the shadows and is no longer invisible.
This book is a terrific read and the writing is marvelous. If you're a fan of Louisa May Alcott, you'll absolutely love Marmee & Louisa.
Very highly recommended.