A new book.
I need one.
For the past week I’ve been bogged down in Louisa May, A Modern Biography of Louisa May Alcott, by Martha Saxton.
Except it isn’t really modern, and I’m having a bit of hard time slogging through it.
Published in 1977, it’s an old style academic biography of which I haven’t read the like in a very long time. The front half of the book is more about Bronson Alcott, Louisa’s father, and his ridiculous obsession about philosophy, which culminated in the complete abdication of his responsibility to his family than it is about Louisa, although the premise of the book largely focuses on their dysfunctional relationship and the impact it had on Louisa May and her writing. Saxton’s point of view is decidedly feminist, and her antipathy to Bronson Alcott almost overshadows her ability to tell Louisa’s story.
It’s one of those situations where I’ve made it two-thirds of the way through a 375 page book, and I’m really loathe to give up on it now. Part of my problem with the book may be that the portrait of Louisa’s life is so grim that it completely debunks my (admittedly) childish remembrances of Little Women. The family was dirt poor most of the time, and Bronson Alcott squandered away what little money they did have. I wish someone could have offered him the opportunity to make a decent investment in some bullion, or gold bullion. If he had been able to buy bullion and create some financial security for the family, perhaps Louisa’s life story might have been less grim. Louisa’s take on family life as illustrated in that novel is more satirical than factual, and the success of the book made her more ashamed than proud.
Sigh. What I woudn’t give for a novel like The Bird Sisters right about now.