19 Comments

  1. I’ve seen The Painted Girls around, your positive review has made me decide to add it to the wishlist :)
    Marmee and Me sounds interesting too, it’s a shame there is so little in the way of primary sources.

    • It is. They destroyed her letters and a lot of then during time when they would have been interesting – like her struggles with Bronson. It was a tumultuous relationship but he survived her and basically edited out the really bad stuff she might have had to say about him.

  2. sandynawrot

    I’m pretty excited to read The Painted Girls…I’ve got a copy coming my way soon. It is fun how that kind of dovetails with The Art Forger, which is also about Degas.

    • Degas is a pretty interesting character. You get to know him a little bit more in The Painted Girls. It has been fun to see him popping up all over the place.

  3. I’m extremely interested in both novels and almost picked up The Painted Girls over the weekend – it was briefly in my greedy little hands! I love learning about authors and their families, backgrounds, etc – especially someone as prolific as Louisa May Alcott. I actually ended up buying a copy of The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott and I’m highly looking forward to diving into that story. I’ve heard they are making a movie, but not entirely certain.

  4. I’ve read Marmee & Louisa and found it very compelling. I disagree that there wasn’t enough of Abigail’s own writings to substantiate LaPlante’s claims. It’s really a matter of quantity versus quality: there are probably ten times the amount of papers available to study in Bronson Alcott’s hand but his writing is incoherent. Abba’s is powerful, concise, passionate and the tone of those writings is what speaks so clearly to me about the strength of her personality.

    I would recommend reading the companion volume, “My Heart is Boundless,” a collection of Abba’s writings edited by LaPlante. Here is where you hear Abba’s voice unfiltered.

    I commend Karen White on reading with an unbiased voice through Marmee & Louisa considering the way Bronson was portrayed! I don’t fault LaPlante for portraying Abba in the more favorable light as that was part of the point of the book. But for a balanced approached, a reading of John Matteson’s excellent “Eden’s Outcasts The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father” is recommended to get both sides of the story.

    Love ’em both! :-)

    I blog regularly about Louisa May Alcott if you’d like to visit at http://www.louisamayalcottismypassion.com.

    • That could be the case, but mainly the book was more a biography of Abigail, and there were quite a few places where LaPlante mentions that letters detailing her thoughts were not available/had been destroyed or she didn’t have Abigail’s response to the situation she’s mentioning. The book was compelling. I think you would be hard pressed to find a book on the Alcott’s that isn’t, but based on the dynamics it’s also hard not to have a book that is mostly in response to Bronson. His writing may not be that articulate but his presence is larger than life. Most of how the entire family behaved was in response to him. The book just seemed more about the entire family, rather than the focus of the title or LaPlante’s opening remarks. It’s still very good.

      • Agreed. It’s pretty much impossible to talk about one family member without including the others as they were so close. And Bronson cast a very long shadow.

  5. Thank you, Nicole. As you might imagine, it a little nerve- racking to have one’s supporters read her new work. So glad you admired The Painted Girls. I particularly love this bit: “an exquisitely rendered love story between these sisters, and the sacrifices they make to ease each others burdens while striving to better their lives in a world.”

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