The acclaimed and “meticulously researched” (People) biography that actor Laura Dern—who plays Marmee in the Little Women film adaptation—calls “a beautiful book of letters between Louisa and her mother…a massive influence. You feel it as like a cord of the film.”
Marmee & Louisa, hailed by NPR as one of the best books of 2012, paints an exquisitely moving and utterly convincing portrait of Louisa May Alcott and her mother, the real “Marmee.” Award-winning biographer Eve LaPlante mines the Alcotts’ intimate diaries and other private papers, some recently discovered in a family attic and others thought to have been destroyed, to revive this remarkable daughter and mother. Abigail May Alcott—long dismissed as a quiet, self-effacing background figure—comes to life as a gifted writer and thinker. A politically active feminist firebrand, she fought for universal civil rights, an end to slavery, and women’s suffrage. This gorgeously written story of two extraordinary women is guaranteed to transform our view and deepen our understanding of one of America’s most beloved authors.
In her compelling but ultimately disappointing dual biography of Louisa May Alcott and her mother, Abigail May Alcott, LaPlante (American Jezebel) admirably seeks to paint a fuller picture of Abigail and her role in Louisa's life. Born into a prominent New England family in 1800, Abigail read widely as a child and, with the encouragement of her beloved older brother, Samuel Joseph, pursued an education; she would also follow his interest in reform movements, such as abolition. Though she originally favored the idea of teaching or writing over marriage, Abigail met "unconventional" teacher A. Bronson Alcott in 1827 and married him a love match that quickly devolved into a peripatetic life of poverty. As their family grew to include four daughters, Abigail spent most of her time earning money and managing their household, while also fighting chronic illness. Louisa followed suit, though Abigail consistently encouraged her daughter to write as a means of expression. This turned into a vocation, and Louisa's success with Little Women afforded the Alcotts their first taste of financial security. LaPlante allows her protagonists to speak for themselves through copious quotes from private journals and letters, though this doesn't always lead to cogent storytelling. Nevertheless, the book is likely to spur further scholarship on the inspiration for the beloved "Marmee."