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American Bloomsbury: Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau: Their Lives, Their Loves, Their Work Hardcover – Deckle Edge, December 19, 2006
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Top Customer Reviews
the reasons given in a number of the editorial and customer reviews:
the factual errors riddling the book beginning right on page 1 (little
Waldo Emerson was 5 when he died, not 9; Emily Dickinson and other
"neighbors" were not neighbors to the Concordians; the Emersons were
not married in 1838; and on and on and on), the jarring colloquialisms
(Emerson as sugar daddy, Thoreau as moocher, Hawthorne as rat), the
sweeping and totally unfounded assertions, and the sporadic
Such factors as these contribute to making a bad book, but what makes
this book peculiar is that the author shows herself capable, on a
number of pages, of producing compelling, factual, graceful prose, but
just as you are lulled into the story and willing to forgive and
forget the clunkers and errors just passed, she pulls you up short
with some sensationalistic or speculative doozy that utterly breaks
the spell. In the worst cases, these sojourns into fantasy make one
angry because they are so clearly untrue -- and purposeless except as
means to stoke the potboiler theme of the book: unconsummated lust,
cerebral adultery (and maybe more!), jealousy, seething
The best example of this is her depiction of Hawthorne,
whose complex moral and intellectual flaws receive no attention at all
because Cheever chooses instead to focus one glaring spotlight on him
as "a rat with women.Read more ›
I'm such a huge fan of the Transcendentalists that I'll read *anything* on them, but slogging through the rest of this stilted mess is going to take a LOT of commitment.
If you haven't purchased it yet, do yourself a favor and get the eminently superior _Emerson Among the Eccentrics_ by Carlos Baker. Read anything by David Robinson. Read _Daughter of Boston: The Extraordinary Diary of A Nineteenth-Century Woman Caroline Healey Dall_ by Helen Deese. Read Megan Marshall's marvelous contribution, _The Peabody Sisters_, read Phyllis Cole's absolutely brilliant _Mary Moody Emerson And the Origins of Transcendentalism_.
There is such a wealth of wonderful books out there on this subject, there's no reason to support this shoddy effort.
And yet, nonfiction readers deserve accuracy. And the Concord writers deserve to be remembered honestly. This book is fraught with factual errors. And we're not talking about infinitesimal, esoteric, or subjective ones. We're not even talking about interpretations. These are mistakes that could have, nay, SHOULD have been corrected by consulting the very books listed in the bibliography on pages 211-214.
To Ms. Cheever's credit: she at least knew that the North Bridge wasn't standing in the mid-1800s. That's the most common mistake that writers make about this time period. But what about something as basic as the natural environment? Thoreau wouldn't have pointed out deer tracks or beaver dams to his students because both animals were rare in New England back then. He didn't see cardinals either, for they were "Dixie invaders" that didn't come north until decades later. OK, you might say. Those don't sound like big deals. We could overlook those assumptions. Fine.
Concord devotees will find here more than a dozen inaccuracies regarding Thoreau alone.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Ms. Cheever writes poorly and has a minimal grasp of 19th century history and culture. Mistakes and inaccuracies abound, historical and botanical. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Serious Reader
Worth reading again and again. Such powerful authors with personalities of their own. All in one small area.Published 13 months ago by Dale
Interesting, interesting, interesting... and for that reason I'm still glad I ordered it and read it. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Peggy Bonnington
If you like literary gossip, this is right up your alley - a very enjoyable account of the romantic shenanigans of the Concord Trandscendentalists. Read morePublished 16 months ago by bettiola
This book is wonderful. I've listened to it 3-5 times already on road-trips.Published 17 months ago by jonathan
Cheever's writing style never comes to life in this book. She narrates without any spark and leaves many crucial points unsaid. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Experienced seminar leader
I didn't realize these folks were the original hippies - what a group! The writing is not great, in contrast with the literary geniuses who populate the pages, but I highly... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Sarah Greene
I enjoyed the book, it was well written, the personalities of these literary icons were brought to life as was the era in which they lived. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Ipanema Girl