I have finally finished Caroline Ticknor’s memoir of May (I told you I was a slow reader!) and although it is pretty romanticized, I enjoyed it thoroughly. Being able to blog about it as I read made it far more enjoyable. I will reiterate that May must have been a delight to know and that she was, to me, the epitome of a modern woman. What I appreciated most about May was that she simply lived her life, knew what she wanted, and went after it with a lot of grace. And as career-oriented as she was, she could still long for, and appreciate, the domestic life. I wish she had lived long enough for us to find out if she had been able to juggle motherhood with her career (she had said she would never give up her art). It would have made for a fascinating study.
Even though I knew the end was coming in Ticknor’s book, it still hit me hard. For 293 pages, I was immersed in May’s life, words, and joy of living. I was able to see things through her eyes and appreciate, in a small way, the things she so treasured. I have never known anyone before who appreciated beauty the way she did. At first, I thought she appreciated beauty because she was materialistic and spoiled, but I was soon to learn it was more than that – she had a true artist’s eye. She saw the whole world as various compositions that she wanted to capture. Having just a hint of the artist’s eye myself, I can appreciate that.
It was also a pleasure to read such beautiful letters about her happy marriage. While I’m no expert on the 19th century, it would seem that happy marriages were not so common.
But all of a sudden on page 294, she died. Ticknor had so many letters from May about her life, but there was practically nothing about her death. Of course May was too ill to write, but I wish we had had more correspondences shared from others who were there. I think, perhaps, it might have been easier to accept.
I will miss May Alcott Nieriker. I understand there new biographies being written on May and I eagerly await them. In the meantime, I will now plunge headlong into Little Women and learn about her through Amy. And I can always read more from Daniel Shealy’s book, Little Women Abroad, and May’s own book, Studying Art Abroad: and How to Do It Cheaply.