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My Heart is Boundless: Writings of Abigail May Alcott, Louisa's Mother Paperback – November 6, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-1476702803 ISBN-10: 1476702802 Edition: Original

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My Heart is Boundless: Writings of Abigail May Alcott, Louisa's Mother + Marmee & Louisa: The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother + Eden's Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; Original edition (November 6, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476702802
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476702803
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,319,793 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Edited skillfully by LaPlante (a member of Alcott's family tree), this thoroughly engaging collection of Abigail May Alcott's warm and lively writings, primarily drawn from her journals and letters, show her to be a witty, eloquent, thoughtful, and captivating writer and correspondent. Born into a prominent Boston family, thirsty for an education, and engaged by the social topics of her time (including abolition and women's rights), Abigail soon found herself in a troubled marriage to utopian thinker Bronson Alcott. The trials of her married life—especially their financial woes—make appearances, as does the joy she took in her daughters and extended family, her strength of character, and a glimpse of sly humor ( I wish women displayed more brains and less jewelry ). Most fascinating are the excerpts from Abigail's reports as a welfare worker in Boston; her desire to provide work and just wages for the poor along with relief ring a startlingly contemporary bell. Though one could certainly read this volume on its own, LaPlante's companion biography, Marmee & Louisa (pubbing simultaneously) will undoubtedly help to fill in gaps. And although some of Abigail's correspondence was destroyed or altered by family members, one hopes that further volumes of her extant work might one day be released to shed even further light on this remarkable woman. (Nov.)

From Booklist

LaPlante’s unearthing of the forgotten papers of her ancestor, Abigail May Alcott, mother of the revered author of Little Women, generated her mother-daughter biography, Marmee & Louisa, and this first collection of Abigail’s writings, including autobiographical sketches, journal entries, and letters. Of particular significance is Abigail’s correspondence with her brother, Samuel Joseph May, a prominent abolitionist. LaPlante organizes this eye-opening and vibrant volume by such subjects as “Motherhood” and “Employment,” but these headings give little indication of the lively intelligence and unquenchable spirit at work as Abigail expresses love for her children (baby Louisa is “a sprightly merry little puss”), her belief in good works, and her despair over the deprivations that prevent her from living a life of the mind: “If trial and friction make strong and bright, I shall be strength and brilliancy personified.” Indeed, Abigail is resilient, loyal, “theatrical, poignant, passionate, and often satirical,” devoted to liberty and Louisa’s literary efforts. Sleuth and scholar LaPlante has immeasurably enriched American letters by reclaiming “an American writer and thinker who has for too long been ignored.” --Donna Seaman

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lydia TOP 1000 REVIEWER on January 2, 2013
Format: Paperback
What a way to start out 2013 - wrapping up my reading of these lovely bits of notes, letters, and historical tidbits by and about Abigail May Alcott. My Heart is Boundless is a nice, tidy, organized book that chronologically (mostly) follows Abigail's life through her own writing and reflection.

I've been a fan of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women since I was a young girl. I was the oldest of four girls (for a time, before three brothers and two more sisters came along) and related well to Meg - the oldest of Louisa's quartet. I admired her quiet dignity, her willingness to accept what happened, and understood how she managed being surrounded by the sisters she was surrounded by. So it was a bit of a delight for me to learn that Louisa's mother, Abigail, also had quite a few sisters and brothers and I hungrily dug in to her writings.

I identified strongly with Louisa's desire for knowledge and information - but not only that, her desire to keep her family close. There was quite a bit of tragedy that struck the May family and Abigail appeared to be the bedrock through it all. These writings are a perfect example of how a woman of her time need not be shut away, but rather could find happiness and fulfillment in ways other than motherhood.

My only issue with this collection is how choppy it can be. It's mostly chronological, but I needed to finish it and would have rather spent time reading portions and then moving on to other books. It does not make for a comfortable, "unputdownable" book - but rather is perhaps intended to be a book to be read in short bites.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By L. Perry VINE VOICE on June 18, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Quite Lovely. Was purchased as a gift for my mother, and she has deemed a must-read for true Alcott fans. One sees from where Alcott's gifts may have arose.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By YA Librarian on April 17, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Abigail Alcott has been in the shadows since her death. The world only knows her as Marmee the wonderful mother in Little Women. But who was the real Marmee? For the first time we see who she was.

It was believed that Abba's journals and letters were burned by Louisa. However, that was not the case and Ms. LaPlante, a relative of the Alcott family, stumbled across a treasure trove. Ms. LaPlante does a wonderful job creating this book from Abba's writings. The author adds notes so the reader is not confused by events. At the end of the book there are also recipes and remedies.

This book has Abigail's letters and notes from her journals compiled for the first time. It is obvious that Abba was a brilliant writer herself, and a strong woman with some radical views. She believed women should vote and she believed there should be an end to slavery. I daresay she was a feminist as well because she wanted justice for women.

After being silenced for so long Abba has a voice and it rings loud and clear. The letter and journal entries are moving. You can feel the poor woman's sadness as she writes about Liz's death, or feel her frustration when she tries to figure out what the family will do for money. Time and time again she is thanking relatives for handouts. We see she how she loves her daughters and she encourages Louisa to write. Abba has such wonderful advise. Among one of her little notes is " a woman may live a whole life of sacrifice and at her death meekly say I die a woman. A man passes a few years in experiments on self denial and simple life and he says, "behold a God." The waning years are also sad as we see the woman struggling to be an active part of the family but her body was failing her.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Maria Irene Mislej on March 7, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Abigail Alcott was an extraordinary person, a feminist anvant la lettre. Her diaries are a deep path into a special world with women struggling for autonomy.
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