I am a fan of biographies and I am a fan of Louisa May Alcott. To that end, I highly recommend Harriet Reisen’s biography of a woman widely considered to be one of the very best American authors.
For biographical reasons, I can recommend this book. Reisen’s book is well-researched and she makes use of never-before-published resources. She provides insightful analysis of the Alcott family dynamics, especially the strained relationship between flawed and passionate second daughter, Louisa, and her idealistic father, Bronson Alcott, a respected pillar of the Transcendentalist movement of the nineteenth century.
For personal reasons, I can recommend this biography. I found myself genuinely relating to Miss Alcott. In her mid and late twenties, Louisa chose to move away from her parents (though she had the option to live with them indefinitely), take cramped quarters in a different town, and work three jobs (teaching, sewing, and freelance writing). She worked hard and maintained her confidence that one day she would achieve financial independence and would find work that she loved. Her situation mirrors my own. I, too, am in my mid-twenties, living on my own and working three jobs while trying to find that one full-time job that will make me happy.
For literary reasons I can recommend this book. Most readers know L.M. Alcott as the author of Little Women. She was, in fact, an extraordinarily prolific author of short stories, poetry, essays, children’s fiction, and adult fiction. She published many morbid and sensational stories under pseudonyms. My favorite Alcott novel, A Long, Fatal Love Chase, was considered too scandalous to print during the 1800s. It was published posthumously more than century after she wrote it.
If you are interested in biographies, Louisa M. Alcott, the Transcendentalist movement, nineteenth-century American life, or a rags-to-riches story, Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women is for you. Recommended for high school readers and up.