Marmee & Louisa: The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother, by Eve LaPlante, is an exceptionally written book, and one that is educational and fascinating on many levels.
LaPlante managed to find letters and journals written by Abigail Alcott, and within those pages are remarkable images of a woman who shaped the life of Louisa May Alcott, more than anyone could have imagined.
From Abigail’s childhood, through her years married to Bronson Alcott, the reader is taken on a journey into her life, a life often stifled due to Bronson’s firm and irresponsible stance. Bronson left the family for long periods of time, forcing Abigail to take on the responsibility of supporting the household. Her journals and correspondence depict a woman in poverty and a woman struggling as best as she can to feed and house her children. She was reliant on charity, friends, family and others in order to do so. Most of us do not know this about Abigail and her plight.
Abigail, although from the Victorian era, was intelligent and head strong in many ways. These characteristics are what enabled her to support her family. She tried to make comfort within the confines of poverty. She struggled as best she could to make her children feel secure and happy. She was the forceful one who took charge of the family, although Bronson was given credit for doing so. Was this due to the fact that women, in general, were not viewed as providers? Was it due to the fact that male, societal ideals could not depict a woman as being the head of the household?
Whatever the reason, Abigail was definitely a force to contend with, and definitely the mentor to Louisa. Louisa wove her mother into her stories, through reading her own mother’s journals and letters. She transferred those entries into fictionalized accounts, accounts which in turn, led her to become a famous writer.
I was glued to the pages of Marmee & Louisa: The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother, by Eve Laplante. It is difficul to think that a woman of Abigail’s nature and forthrightness was more or less forced to be suppressed by societal mores and standards of the time. The book gives credence and long overdue recognition to Abigail.
I highly recommend it to everyone.