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Fruitlands: Louisa May Alcott Made Perfect…

Fruitlands: Louisa May Alcott Made Perfect

by Gloria Whelan

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Although this book is published as recommended for 8-11 year olds, I wouldn't want my 8 year old to read it. If someone walked into a library and picked this up, reading it out of the context of the lives of the Alcott Family, I'm afraid it would be depressing with no hope or mention of the good things that came from this family. Bronson Alcott just sounds mentally ill and abusive of his family. It might be ok reading for a completist familiar with the whole story of the Alcotts and the Transcendentalists, which I am not. I realize it is a children's book but was still disappointed. It consists of two fictionalized diaries kept by Louisa May Alcott, one her parents had access to, and the other one secret. I couldn't resist that premise. I should have. ( )
1 vote mkboylan | Mar 30, 2014 |
This fictionalized account of Alcott's life covers the year the Alcott family lived at Fruitlands, Bronson Alcott's attempt at a utopian society. The book is in diary format, alternating between Louy's "public" and "private" journals (as imagined by Whelan, of course). These document the struggles of a loving and high-spirited girl who longs to be a good and obedient daughter, but finds herself a long way from perfection. She's surrounded by an interesting cast of characters -- her loving mother, of course, and high-minded father, as well as her perfect older sister Anna, sympathetic younger sister Lizzie, and toddler Abby May. Joining them at Fruitlands are Mr. Lane, a stern Englishman, and his son William, along with a motley cast of characters who are also seeking perfection. (Unfortunately, these secondary characters are more sketches than fully developed characters.) The quest ends unhappily, as the year's harvest proves insufficient to see them through the winter, and the individuals end up going their separate ways.

This book is not one of Whelan's better efforts. Perhaps the difficulty is in portraying so well-known a figure as Alcott faithfully, or perhaps it's the bittersweet ending of the book, but for me, the story fell flat. It was a quick read, but felt a bit repetitive -- Louy does something seemingly harmless / speaks without thinking / is a tiny bit rebellious, father scolds her, she cries and apologizes. Moreover, I think it is difficult to find the right audience for this book. Readers too young for Little Women are unlikely to be interested in the lives of the Alcott family, though some readers who enjoy books like the "Dear America" series might read it for the diary format and historical context. Older readers who are interested in Alcott's life will probably seek information among the plethora of Alcott biographies, where they can get more concrete information about Bronson Alcott's Transcendental philosophies and utopian dreams. This book is pleasant (though not particularly exciting) to read, but it neither presents a great deal of information about Alcott nor engages the reader with strong plotting and characterization. ( )
1 vote foggidawn | May 18, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0064410846, Paperback)

We are all going to be made perfect . . .

In 1843, with all their possessions loaded onto a single wagon, ten-year-old Louisa May Alcott and her family bravely set out into the wilderness to make a new home for themselves on a farm called Fruitlands. Louisa's father has a dream of living a perfect, simple life. It won't be easy, but the family has vowed to uphold his high ideals.

  In her diary -- one she shares with her parents -- Louisa records her efforts to become the girl her parents would like her to be. But in another, secret diary, she reveals the hardships of this new life, and pours out her real hopes and worries. Can Louisa live up to her father's expectations? Or will trying to be perfect tear the family apart?

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:27:14 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Fictional diary entries recount the true-life efforts of Louisa May Alcott's family to establish a utopian community known as Fruitlands in Massachusetts in 1843.

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