Matteson, John. Eden's Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father.
6 words: An excellent and thorough Alcott biography.
Informative, fair, well-documented, well-written! Matteson has written a highly readable biography that is both scholarly and conversational. I had no idea this much material was available, but all of the Alcotts kept journals and these personal writings alone would certainly have been an overwhelming task--yet Matteson obviously managed it. The personal writings, especially of Louisa and Bronson, give much of the interest and vitality to this biography.
Bronson was, indeed, a piece of work - a dreamer, philosopher, and thoroughly impractical man. My feelings about Bronson went back and forth, but Matteson's research reveals the man in depth, with compassion, and over the length of his long life.
What a family they were! Poor, almost nomadic as they were forced to move over and over, failing again and again, full of high ideals fostered both by Bronson and Abba, confined to a vegetarian diet and few amenities, the Alcotts persevered, and eventually, succeeded. Certainly Louisa did, providing much of the families support.
A biographical MUST READ if you are interested in the time period, the Alcotts, or Concord and its prominent inhabitants. (I loved Emerson all the more for his many kindnesses.)
Nonfiction. Biography. 2007. 428 pages + extensive notes and an excellent bibliography.