I downloaded this audiobook from my library not so much because I wanted to hear about the life of Louisa May Alcott as much as I wanted to hear what it was like to grow up surrounded by people like Nathaniel Hawthorne,
William Ellery Channing and [a:Henry James|159|Henry James|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1202237907p2/159.jpg]. Probably 80% of the book was devoted to her friends, families, and homes rather than about her life.
Apparently, Louisa developed a lifetime crush on Emerson. Who wouldn't? The next door neighbor in [b:Little Women|1934|Little Women|Louisa May Alcott|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1309282614s/1934.jpg|3244642], Laurie, is partially based on him and partially based on a young man that Louisa met during her European travels. Her European travels were also fodder for Henry James' [b:Daisy Miller|16207|Daisy Miller|Henry James|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1166720105s/16207.jpg|3274683] (which I recently read and didn't really care for).
The author of this biography really had it in for Louisa's father, Bronson Alcott. Louisa based her most popular novel, [b:Little Women|1934|Little Women|Louisa May Alcott|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1309282614s/1934.jpg|3244642], on her own family, and the father is mostly absent, fighting in the civil war. When I read [a:Geraldine Brooks|211268|Geraldine Brooks|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1303284528p2/211268.jpg]' telling of the father's tale in [b:March|13529|March|Geraldine Brooks|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1327935441s/13529.jpg|2643796], I came away feeling a little sorry for pathetic Bronson Alcott. But Susan Cheever paints him as a silly dreamer who couldn't provide for his family and who lived off of dreams and Emerson's inheritance. She seems to have no respect for him whatsoever. Then again, I found it odd that the family was willing to live off of apples and bread rather than get a job that was "beneath them". They wanted to teach, write, or lecture, but they'd rather live in utter destitution that do anything else.
As I child, I was utterly fascinated with the character of Jo in Little Women
because she was me in so many ways. I wrote constantly, got permission to publish impromptu newspapers at school with a friend of mine, and got my classmates to act in silly plays that my friend and I had written. It's interesting to see that Louisa May Alcott did much of the same as a child, and I have to wonder if I would have kept it up like Louisa did into adulthood with more encouragement and less to do with my time in a more organic world with less distractions to draw me away.
Oh, and did I mention that she saw [a:Charles Dickens|239579|Charles Dickens|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1357465042p2/239579.jpg] speaking on his lecture circuit?
Anyhow, interesting biography, but it could have been better.