Marmee & Louisa by Eve LaPlante

The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother.
Available now at Tantor Audio.
From the Publisher:

“In this groundbreaking work, LaPlante paints an exquisitely moving, utterly convincing portrait of a woman decades ahead of her time, and the fiercely independent daughter whose life was deeply entwined with her mother’s dreams of freedom. Based on newly uncovered papers, this moving portrait of Louisa May Alcott’s relationship with her mother will transform our view of one of America’s most beloved authors.”

From the review at Linus’ Blanket:

“I read Marmee and Louisa and then listened to it on audio. It was narrated by Karen White, and she does an excellent job managing the flow of a wealth of information. Many locations were mentioned, the relatives had similar names, and their connections and intermarriages were dense. White’s distinct narration acted as a  clarifier of the information presented, and in a book filled with Bronson Alcott’s shenanigans, her reading was also fair and largely unbiased toward any of those mentioned. Both the book and its audio are worthy choices, and not to be missed by those already interested or wanting to learn  more about Abigail, Louisa  and the Alcott family, and women’s history in the United States surrounding the civil war. Recommended.”

From the review at I Am, Indeed:

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.”

My recording experience:
Like many history books, a big challenge of recording Marmee & Louisa was smoothly incorporating quoted text (often with archaic language) into the narrative.  However, for me personally, the bigger challenge was keeping the judgement out of my voice when Bronson Alcott was in the picture.  I was simply appalled at a great deal of his behavior!
A lovely surprise in this book was the in-depth coverage of aspects of the Abolitionist movement.  Abigail’s brother Samuel May was quite active in the anti-slavery movement, despite the challenges it brought him, and it was fascinating to learn about how attitudes towards the Abolitionists shifted over the course of the Civil War period.
Most intriguing, of course, were the insights into how Louisa May Alcott came to write for a living (and the breadth of her career), her inspirations, and the physical challenges she had to overcome in the latter part of her life.  All in all, I learned a great deal, and that is always a treat!
Listen to a sample here:

Below is a wonderful video from Eve LaPlante’s site about her sources for Marmee & Louisa:

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