Louisa May Alcott by Susan Cheever
A Personal Biography

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Synopsis

Louisa May Alcott never intended to write Little Women. She had dismissed her publisher’s pleas for such a novel. Written out of necessity to support her family, the book had an astounding success that changed her life, a life which turned out very differently from that of her beloved heroine Jo March.

In Louisa May Alcott, Susan Cheever, the acclaimed author of American Bloomsbury, returns to Concord, Massachusetts, to explore the life of one of its most iconic residents. Based on extensive research, journals, and correspondence, Cheever’s biography chronicles all aspects of Alcott’s life, from the fateful meeting of her parents to her death, just two days after that of her father. She details Bronson Alcott’s stalwart educational vision, which led the Alcotts to relocate each time his progressive teaching went sour; her unsuccessful early attempts at serious literature, including Moods, which Henry James panned; her time as a Civil War nurse, when she contracted pneumonia and was treated with mercury-laden calomel, which would affect her health for the rest of her life; and her vibrant intellectual circle of writers and reformers, idealists who led the charge in support of antislavery, temperance, and women’s rights.

Alcott’s independence defied the conventional wisdom, and her personal choices and literary legacy continue to inspire generations of women. A fan of Little Women from the age of twelve, and a distinguished author in her own right, Cheever brings a unique perspective to Louisa May Alcott’s life as a woman, a daughter, and a working writer.
 

About Susan Cheever

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Susan Cheever is the author of both nonfiction and fiction works, including My Name is Bill, Note Found in a Bottle, As Good As I Could Be, Home Before Dark, and Treetops. She is the director of the Yaddo Corporation, and has received the Associated Press Award, the Boston Globe's Winship Medal, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She lives in New York City. Tavia Gilbert, a multiple Audie Award nominee and AudioFile Earphones and Parent's Choice Award-winning producer, narrator, and writer, has appeared on stage and in film. School Library Journal has called the performances of this highly acclaimed performer "as close as you can get to a full cast narration with a solo voice." She has narrated nearly 150 multicast and solo voice audiobooks.
 
Published November 2, 2010 by Simon & Schuster. 298 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, Religion & Spirituality. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Louisa May Alcott

Kirkus Reviews

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Contextual study of Louisa May Alcott's life (1832–1888) and work, from her childhood among such writers as Emerson, Fuller and Hawthorne, to the astounding literary career that afforded her a feminist independence of spirit even as she remained a caregiver to her family.

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The New York Times

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Susan Cheever and Richard Francis examine the lives of Louisa May Alcott and her (at times) eccentric family.

Dec 10 2010 | Read Full Review of Louisa May Alcott: A Personal...

The New York Times

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Susan Cheever and Richard Francis examine the lives of Louisa May Alcott and her (at times) eccentric family.

Dec 10 2010 | Read Full Review of Louisa May Alcott: A Personal...

The Wall Street Journal

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In the 122 years since her death, Louisa May Alcott has become a popular heroine nearly as beloved as her most famous creations, the March sisters.

Oct 30 2010 | Read Full Review of Louisa May Alcott: A Personal...

Book Reporter

"What a shock," writes Susan Cheever in AMERICAN BLOOMSBURY about.

Dec 22 2010 | Read Full Review of Louisa May Alcott: A Personal...

The Washington Times

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Ever since the mid-20th century, when Madeleine Stern discovered that Louisa May Alcott had pseudonymously written a series of melodramatic thrillers to support the Alcott family in the years before she hit pay dirt with "Little Women," writers have looked for something new to say about this most...

Feb 18 2011 | Read Full Review of Louisa May Alcott: A Personal...

USA Today

There were times when I felt like I was walking beside the flaky if brilliant Thoreau or sitting with Alcott in her room as she struggled with mercury poisoning and wrote Little Women.

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BookPage

“But although she never spoke a word against her father, against his irresponsibility or his bullying or his prejudice against her, she took her revenge in a far more effective and literary way,” Cheever writes.

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Tampa Bay Times

On the eve of publishing Little Women in 1868, Louisa May Alcott wrote in her diary, "Never liked girls or knew many except my sisters, but our queer plays and experiences may prove interesting, though I doubt it."

Dec 18 2010 | Read Full Review of Louisa May Alcott: A Personal...

Bookmarks Magazine

The Topic: Starting with her own treasured discovery of Little Women, Cheever delves deeply into the unconventional and often grueling life of its rebellious and temperamental author, Louisa May Alcott.

Nov 07 2010 | Read Full Review of Louisa May Alcott: A Personal...

Book Forum

"Never liked girls or knew many, except my sisters, but our queer plays and experiences may prove interesting, though I doubt it," Louisa May Alcott confided to her journal in 1868, while writing Little Women.

Nov 17 2010 | Read Full Review of Louisa May Alcott: A Personal...

The Wall Street Journal

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In the 122 years since her death, Louisa May Alcott has become a popular heroine nearly as beloved as her most famous creations, the March sisters.

Oct 30 2010 | Read Full Review of Louisa May Alcott: A Personal...

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