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Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women (giveaway)

Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women was just recently released in paperback by Picador and yes, I happily accepted a copy for review! With all the buzz around The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott earlier this summer, I felt like I wanted to start off learning more about Louisa May Alcott by reading a biography of her. (Yes, I still plan on reading The Lost Summer. I just haven't gotten to it yet. If you haven't heard of it, check out Judy's review of the title.)

It took longer for me to read through Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women than I originally planned on, but the reason for that was that I was lingering in this well-told biography. Harriet Reisen is a Louisa May Alcott fanatic and wanted to write a fair and accurate portrayal of this famous authoress. Reisen didn't feel other biographers were quite doing Alcott justice and so she purposed to leave no stone unturned when writing this particular work. I love both Reisen's passion and sensible writing. Even though I knew that she had a "thing" for Alcott and her stories, that bias didn't play through the read for which I was grateful. I felt like I was being presented with facts and given the freedom to form my own opinion of Alcott's life. (And yes, I did establish some pretty firm opinions on a number of issues!)

There were points in time during this read that I wondered if I would ever be interested in picking up an Alcott book ever again. I found her life to be depressing, mostly because of the way her father treated the family. Bronson Alcott was loved by his family, to be sure, but today we'd call him a "lazy bum" and he was that. He felt himself "too good" to work for money. He prided himself on his intellect (I'd argue about that too) and felt that others existed to support him and there was no need for him to "stoop" to physical labor to feed and cloth his family. Reisen makes no excuses for Bronson, but does suggest that he was mentally unstable. I would call the way he lived his life positively sinful and arrogant (or arrogantly sinful) and while I do believe he suffered from a depression (that was passed along to his daughter, Louisa!) I don't feel as if that is a good excuse. The man despised his family in thought, word and deed. I've no respect for him.

Louisa, as it turns out, felt her family's deficiencies keenly and when she was older she purposed to make as much money as she could to pay off family debts. Writing for her was more about money than pleasure. It's hard to imagine, perhaps, given some of her tales, but it is true.

Speaking of truth, there are a world of things I could say about this book. I found it to be utterly absorbing and I enjoyed every single page - even when Alcott philosophy was getting under my skin! In fact, I enjoyed this so thoroughly that when my eyes would start to wander and skim a paragraph, I'd discover that I had lost information and would have to back track. It's rare that a book contains so much information and lays the story out so very well that you find yourself riveted to each word but this is one such biography (at least for me!)

At the risk of this post being enormously long, and not getting to the part that I know you're waiting for, let me just say that if you are looking for a good biography to read on the life of Louisa May Alcott - this is the one!!

Now for the fun - Picador has graciously and generously offered a giveaway copy of Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women to one of you! Would you like to win? Simply leave a comment below (including a valid e-mail address)! This contest is open to U.S. Residents only and will be open through Tuesday, November 16th!

THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED. THE WINNER, as selected by random.org, IS #11 - Amy! Congrats, Amy! I hope you enjoy it!

If you think this book sounds interesting, you'll be happy to know that there is a documentary of Louisa May Alcott which is based on this book. (I, for one, am now incredibly curious to see it!)

For you Facebook Fans (I am not one!) you might also want to check out the book's Facebook page.

Thank you, Picador, both for sending me a copy and for offering one to one of my readers!

36 comments:

seemommysew said...

I'm a big Alcott fan (Lousia, not Bronson!), so I would love to read this.

Annette W. said...

As light and wonderful as Little Women is, I was quite surprised at The Lost Summer and would definitely like to read an actual biography of Louisa May Alcott!

I wonder how the film is and will explore that site more.

derekannette at gmail dot com

mary bailey said...

I feel like a kid in school, jumping up from my desk and wildly waving my arms---"Pick me! Pick me!"

I've been a Louisa May Alcott fan since before I ever read Little Women. Her's was one of the first little red Childhood of Famous Americans bios that I ever fell in love with. I even named my adoption doll (not to be confused with a Cabbage Patch doll) after her!

Yes, yes, yes! I would love to win this book! Thanks for the opportunity, Carrie and publisher.

Melissa @ Breath of Life said...

pick me!

Laura's Reviews said...

I LOVE Louisa May Alcott and would love a chance to win and read this book. I knew her Dad wasn't the greatest, but I didn't realize he was that bad. Not wanting to "stoop" to physical labor to keep his family fed and clothed . . . sounds like a real winner!

My email address is laarlt78(at)hotmail(dot)com. Thanks for the great giveaway!

debbie said...

I saw the documentary and it was really good. I have always been a fan and read most of her books. I would love to read this.
twoofakind12@yahoo.com

Shonya said...

This sounds like a great read! I've heard things about her, but never read a biography. Here's crossing my fingers. . . :D

Stephanie's Mommy Brain said...

I toured Orchard House (the Alcott's home) last year and learned a lot about the family. In fact, I drove by the house again just last week. ;) I found it funny that the dad was a vegetarian but when he wasn't home the mom fed everyone meat. Or something along those lines.

Ruby's Mom said...

I would LOVE to read this book!

Ruby's Mom said...

oops,my email is
cherylsfam-blogg@yahoo.com

Amy said...

Would love to read this! Little Woman is an absolute favorite of mine!

kempfyre21@yahoo.com

apple blossom said...

Interested in winning. Sounds like a cool book thanks

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Jennifer said...

Ooo this sounds good.

transformedgeneration[at]hotmail[dot]com

LifetimeReader said...

I am so eager to read this book!

Susan Bailey said...

Great book, and the documentary is awesome too. There are many clips from it on Reisen's website, http://www.alcottfilm.com

I have the book so don't include me in your giveaway but DEFINITELY read The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott - I read it first time this past May and just reread it.

I have a blog where we discuss Louisa May Alcott exclusively - come by for a visit at http://louisamayalcottismypassion.wordpress.com

Alison said...

Louisa May Alcott was probably my all time favorite author as a young teen and into adult years. Kind of like LMM is to you. Going to have to read this book now! :-)

mary bailey said...

Oh! Just in case you don't have it, here is my email addy:

jprivette1(at)roadrunner(dot)com

Barbara H. said...

Well, you know I like biographies, and I love her books, so yes, I'd like to enter.

I had read before that her father almost joined a "Shaker" community but it would have required not living with his family and they begged and pleaded with him not to, so he refrained. And though the March family sounds Christian, the Alcotts were more into Transcendentalism. But I have never read a biography of her..

Page Turner said...

I really enjoy biographies, and this one sounds fascinating!

karenk said...

would enjoy reading louisa's story...thanks for the chance :)

karenk
kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Stumbeline said...

Thank you for offering this giveaway, Carrie. I would love to read this book.

iamstumbeline(at)yahoo(dot)com

Emma said...

This book sound wonderful.Please enter me in the giveaway.Thanks for the wonderful giveaway.augustlily06(at)aim(dot)com.

Anonymous said...

I have been a Louise May Alcott fan since I was child (a long time ago). I want read everything about her. I read some of her not so well known books as well as Little Women (4 times!) and Little Men (2 times). Wish that you had 20 copies seeking homes!!!

CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

Carol M said...

I love Little Woman and I know I would enjoy this book! I also plan on reading The Lost Summer.
mittens0831 at aol dot com

Anne Bennett said...

It has been years since I read Little Women and Little Men. Time for a reread then I think I'll tuck into this book. Thanks for this excellent review.

I'm stopping by from the Saturday Book Review Tour.
-Anne
http:headfullofbooks.blogspot.com

Carol in Oregon said...

Goodness, girl, what a review! How could anyone read the review and not want to read the book?

Have you read the children's book by Gloria Whelan, Fruitlands? One side of me thought it was hysterically funny (she had a secret diary that no one saw and the "public" diary she knew her parents would read--with entries from each on facing pages).

I'm interested in your description of Bronson as a "lazy bum", given the references to work found in Louisa's writing.

bakkerfamily1(at)frontier(dot)com

Desiree said...

I would love to have a copy of this book! One of my favorite stories!

davidndes at comcast dot com

wmmahaney said...

I would love to win a copy. Louisa May Alcott has been one of my favorite authors. I read most of her books as a teen, and still love them today.
wmmahaney(at)att(dot)net

Janet said...

Definitely count me in on this giveaway! Loved reading your thoughts on it.

Janet said...

Oops: janetATacrossthepageDOTnet

Mozi Esme said...

Would love to read this!

We posted about this giveaway at Winning Readings: http://winningreadings.blogspot.com/2010/11/louisa-may-alcott.html

Anonymous said...

My sisters and I love Little Women. Would love to give this to one of my sisters for Christmas.

Wendy
ebeandebe at gmail dot com

Maureen said...

What a great find! Please include me!

alekee02[at]yahoo[dot]com

Anonymous said...

I would like to know more about her life, so please enter me in the contest.
hismercysurrounding(at)yahoo(dot)com

Debbie F said...

Please include me! thanks

dcf_beth at verizon dot net

Katie Schroeder said...

I love Louisa May Alcott! Please sign me up for the drawing!

schroederkatie at comcast dot net

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