AudioBook Review: Marmee and Louisa: The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother by Eve LaPlante
Who didn’t dream along with Jo and cry over Meg: worry when the girls were struggling with their father’s absence, and want to create plays, newspapers and playtimes like the March girls? Today I have a beautiful AudioBook that tells much about Louisa May Alcott and the relationship she had with her staunchest supporter, her mother, the “Marmee” of Little Women.
One element that always struck me when I read Little Women was the lack, or adjunct roles that the men play in the story. Sure, there is Lorrie, and the oft-absent father, but the sense that the men were little more than window dressing and diversions held with me throughout every reading. For it was Marmee who kept the story moving, the touchstone and steady forward moving element that the girls all looked to for comfort, approval and security.
While other biographies of Alcott mention her mother, Abagail in passing, all see her as a mere stopgap: relegated to the obscurity that history and custom provided women, mentioning birthdate, marriage and death, with little filler in between. All mentions of her had noted the destruction of her personal papers and letters by her husband and children, as per her request.
Eve LaPlante, a relation of Louisa May Alcott, found a long-forgotten trunk of papers that illuminate Abagail May Alcott, and shows her determination to ignore and rise above the societal constraints to become a stalwart supporter and encouragement for her daughters.
Thought to be the superior intellect when contrasted with her husband, her lack of formal education may have contributed to her relegation, but LaPlante has given us an impeccably researched volume, intertwining relatives and history in the context of the day to present a life.
Alcott uses many of the stories that were shared from and with her mother in her works: passages in Abagail’s hand show a clear and concise writing style, evocative and logical, while presenting her points with conviction and humor. Her unconditional support of her girls, and the refusal to allow them to ascribe to society’s notion of their place and the ‘correct’ amount of necessary education and interests they should have, her own intellectual curiosity was fueled by her brother Samuel, an early abolitionist and a strong believer in woman’s rights.
Narration in this book is provided by Karen White, and I will admit that I am a fan of her narrative style. White treats the words with respect, using appropriate emotive emphasis to highlight passages from letters and journals that convey the emotion behind the words, without overly dramatizing the moments. Frustration, concern, elation and love are clearly apparent, yet do not overshadow or distract.
LaPlante has created a story that will present all writing from Louisa May Alcott into a new perspective, and presented a life history that was previously lost to those who believe that strong women and the idea of feminism is a concept from the 1960’s.
Stars: Overall: 5 Narration: 5 Story: 5
Title: Marmee and Louisa
Author: Eve LaPlante
Genre: Biography / Memoir
Narrator: Karen White
Published by: Tantor Audio
Source: Audio Producer
Audio Length: 14 Hours: 34 minutes
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About the Book:
Marmee & Louisa, hailed by NPR as one of the best books of 2012, paints an exquisitely moving and utterly convincing portrait of Louisa May Alcott and her mother, the real Marmee. Award-winning biographer Eve LaPlante mines the Alcotts' intimate diaries and other private papers, some recently discovered in a family attic and others thought to have been destroyed, to revive this remarkable daughter and mother.
Abigail May Alcott, long dismissed as a quiet, self-effacing background figure, comes to life as a gifted writer and thinker. A politically active feminist firebrand, she fought for universal civil rights, an end to slavery, and women's suffrage. This gorgeously written story of two extraordinary women is guaranteed to transform our view and deepen our understanding of one of America's most beloved authors.
A copy of this title was provided via Audio Producer for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.