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Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women by Harriet Reisen

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Member: HarrietReisen

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About meauthor of Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women (Holt, Oct 27/09)

producer-writer of Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women (American Masters, PBS Dec 28/09)

quotes from reviews of the book: see also review on LIbrary Thing

Library Journal
—Kathryn R. Bartelt, Univ. of Evansville Libs., IN
“Reisen portrays Alcott's life with precision and sympathy yet does not hide her flaws. This compelling biography allows readers to know Alcott and appreciate her as ‘her own best character. Highly recommended for Alcott fans as well as readers interested in American women writers and women's studies.”"

Kirkus Reviews:
A deliciously palatable biography of the iconic writer whose life was “as full of plot and character as any [she] invented.”
… Reisen draws extensively from Alcott’s prodigious output …. insightful ….An absorbing portrait of the protean author whose “life was no children’s book.”

Publisher's Weekly -
Signature review by Brenda Wineapple
…Harriet Reisen's Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women does valiantly portray the beloved author as a stalwart woman whose life, as Reisen succinctly puts it, “was no children's book.” …Reisen's rich empathy for Alcott never falters and her chronicle of Alcott's exhausting attempt, as one friend remarked, “to fill vacant niches” in all things, whether in her family or in the world of popular literature, is heart-rending.“

Robert Richardson
biographer of Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and William James
“Harriet Reisen’s Louisa May Alcott is terrific. Reisen’s lifelong fascination with Little Women and the woman who wrote it has produced an absorbing narrative, in many ways the best ever, of Alcott’s own life. Alcott is shown here as the energetic, imaginative, wild, risk-taker she was. Alcott as writer is kept firmly center stage. The utterly compelling force of Alcott’s personality has never been better described. I found the book compulsively readable; I couldn’t put it down.”

John Matteson
Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Eden's Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father
"Harriet Reisen is to be congratulated for her fine work on Louisa May Alcott, which is brilliantly researched and brings to light significant new information on the author of Little Women. Beautifully and sympathetically written, her biography will occupy an essential place on any Alcott bookshelf."

Winona Ryder
,Producer and star of Little Women (film, 1995):
"A beautifully written, significant, and fascinating work. Harriet Reisen does with this biography what Alcott did with her writing- gives us a memorable and inspiring gift full of humanity, heart and soul."

Famed “Book Lust” librarian makes Louisa May Alcott a “Nancy Pearl Pick”
July 19, 2009: Since the release of the best-selling Book Lust in 2003 and the Librarian Action Figure modeled in her likeness, Nancy Pearl has become a rock star among readers. Pearl celebrates the written word by speaking at bookstores and libraries across the country and on her monthly television program Book Lust with Nancy Pearl on the Seattle Channel. She is a regular commentator about books on National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" and NPR affiliate stations KUOW FM Seattle and KWGS FM Tulsa. She plans to review the Alcott biography on KUOW first, and take it from there.

About my libraryI'll add when I have time, but first want to say that the publisher put out that my book, Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women, is "the first complete biography" of Alcott. SO NOT TRUE! I call to your attention these:

Louisa May Alcott, A Biography (1950), Madeleine B. Stern - the godmother of us all, who with Dr Leona Rostenberg, cracked the mystery of Louisa's anonymous and pseudo-nonymous thrillers and brought them to light.

Louisa May (1977), Martha Saxton. A feminist reading that casts Louisa as the victim of her father, Bronson Alcott. It's a convincing and well-written book, but I felt an incomplete portrait that left out the dynamic, brave, and witty woman behind the children's books AND the thrillers.

Eden's Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and her Father (2007), John Matteson. Focussed on Bronson Alcott and his relationship with Louisa, this fine book won the Pulitzer for biography in 2008. I think my bio takes us closer to Louisa and gives her a context separate from her imposing father, but Matteson's is undoubtedly a wonderful book. Read them both and tell me what you think.



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Real nameHarriet Reisen

LocationArlington MA

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Account typepublic, lifetime

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Member sinceSep 8, 2009

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