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.
“[Marmee & Louisa] shows just how much iconic children’s author Louisa May Alcott (1832–1888) “was her mother’s daughter”… previously undiscovered family papers and untapped pages from Abigail’s dairies … provide new evidence exposing her undeniable influence on her daughter … Fresh material gives flesh to the formerly invisible Abigail, revealing how she and her famous daughter mirrored one another … Thoroughly researched and moving.”
“[An] involving mother-daughter portrait…and a fresh perspective on Louisa….Louisa’s unconventional father, Bronson, has received far more attention than his long-suffering, feminist wife...Her own dreams cruelly thwarted, Abigail brilliantly nurtured Louisa’s literary genius. Although bitter ironies mark each woman’s story, vividly set within the social upheavals of the Civil War era, their profound love, intellect, and courage shine.”
“‘Let the world know you are alive!’ Abigail Alcott counseled her daughter, who amply did, having inherited her mother’s spirit and frustrations, diaries and work ethic. Along the way Louisa May Alcott immortalized the woman in whose debt she understood herself to be and who ultimately died in her arms; Eve LaPlante beautifully resurrects her here. A most original love story, taut and tender.”
“‘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.”
“A revelatory dual biography... LaPlante makes a convincing case that Abigail’s doggedly pragmatic responses to the intertwined and ongoing catastrophes of Bronson’s inconsistent emotional involvement and the family finances left an indelible impression on Louisa, who vowed from an early age to take care of her mother... [D]emonstrates that Abigail’s daughters were her dreams made manifest.”
“A romance... The eye-opener of Eve LaPlante’s marvelous new dual biography...is that Abigail was every inch the social philosopher that Bronson was when it came to issues of abolition and women's rights.... Marmee & Louisa
charts Abigail’s relatively unacknowledged
influence as a progressive thinker on her famous daughter Louisa.... When Louisa began to write Little Women
... she drew material from her mother's approximately 20 volumes of diaries. Until Abigail's death...she was her daughter's closest confidant and biggest booster.”
“Compelling... LaPlante admirably seeks to paint a fuller picture of Abigail and her role in Loui
A November 2012 Indie Next Great Read (American Booksellers Association)
“Engrossing... LaPlante, a descendant of the Alcotts, pursued this untold story after discovering forgotten journals and letters in an attic trunk. In her skilled hands these documents yield Abigail unabridged: a thinker, writer, activist, wife and mother who held fast to her convictions in the face of terrible suffering...[T]his is a biography of Louisa, too, and LaPlante makes a compelling case that it was Abigail, not Bronson, who encouraged Louisa not only to channel her considerable energy through writing, but also to pursue publication and to weather the censorship that female writers faced...In bringing to life the woman who made Louisa May Alcott’s work possible, LaPlante shows us that there’s even more to admire in the real Abigail than in the fictional Marmee."