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Eden's Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father Hardcover – August 17, 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
In spite of its title -- which gives misleading higher billing to Louisa -- this book is indeed a dual biography that documents a complex father-daughter and writer-writer relationship. Chronologically, the treatment has to first study Amos Bronson Alcott (1799-1888), from his beginnings on a farm in Wolcott, Connecticut, and a rural education that, unlike other Transcendentalist men, did not include a college degree. Working first as a peddler, he later landed what seemed to be the perfect job for such a thoughtful, self-taught young man: school teacher. Soon enough he was married to Abba May (1800-1877) and had a household of little women -- daughters Anna Bronson (1831-1893), Louisa May (1832-1888), Elizabeth Peabody/Sewell (1835-1858), and Abigail May (1840-1879). Matteson follows Bronson's myriad attempts to find suitable jobs as well as every subsequent relocation the family made, covering a good portion of the Northeast and New England. He turns to Louisa as she moves to the family forefront, and also when she serves time as a nurse in a Union Army hospital. Because each member of the family kept a journal, much of their daily lives and thoughts are available to us -- at least, those events and feelings that they took the time to document. Diaries were not kept private in those days.Read more ›
I read this book like a thriller, finishing it in three days.
I was a young reader of Little Women (maybe 10 times) and the rest of the series. Later as an adult, I never quite put together the pieces the family. Now I know how the Alcotts fit in with Emerson and Thoreau, the role of Fruitlands in the life of the Alcotts and how it was the Amy came to marry Laurie.
The above paragraph could sound flip without the understanding of how Louisa's fiction was a byproduct of both her father's idealism and his inability to support his family. Louisa would be his standard bearer, but she would at all costs, support the family.
Bronson's philosophy of education was ahead of his time. While it can be debated whether his career ending publications served the cause, it is clear, it did not serve the family well. Followed by a second public humiliation in the touted but failed Fruitlands experiment, you can imagine the grief of a former idealist with a young family to feed.
How many father's careers have been rescued by their children... and in the 19th century... any by their daughters? In the case of the Alcotts, it is more than a career redeemed, it is also values and virtues.
Matteson gives a wonderfully readable dual biography. He sticks with his thesis. It's good that he resisted the temptation to delve into the other interesting personalities of the time. Just like when I first read Little Women, I didn't want this book to end.
I can and do recommend this book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I just finished reading "Eden's Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father," by John Matteson. What an unusual and sad life she had. Read morePublished 20 days ago by Linda Goodman, Author/Storyteller/Playwright
For literary folks, this is great background information on an popular author and her family and associates. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Excellent book. Gives new insight on the Transcendalist authors who lived within blocks of each other in Boston and Concord. An example of great writers inspiring each other.Published 2 months ago by Kathey L Holland
Further mining the fascinating relationship of Louisa and her father AlcottPublished 4 months ago by Linda Brockett
While there were many parts of this book that I thought did nothing to promote the story. Iit was quite interesting to discover how Bronson and Louisa blended with the other... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
Amazing research. Quotes from so many private letters, written notes, ledgers, private journals, books----a fascinating story.Published 11 months ago by Elizabeth L. May
Beautifully told story of incredible people in an amazing time in our history.Published 11 months ago by stacey mayfield
Story is interesting, but the book didn't "grab" me. I found it a bit tiresome, finally, but would add that i did learn from it.Published 13 months ago by H.F. Patterson