At 257 pages, I would have thought that my read of Susan Cheever’s Louisa May Alcott A Personal Biography would have been quick and easy. Not so, especially since I’ve adopted the habit of taking notes as I read! This reminds me of school. 🙂 But I can’t tell you how many times I have thought about the other books I’ve read since this last reading binge began in the spring, wishing I had taken notes. I keep thinking of passages and long to know what pages those passages were on. Now I’ll know.
Taking notes while reading a book changes the experience immensely. It makes me ponder sections, paragraphs, sentences, even phrases, and I get a lot more out of the book. Being a slow reader already, this compounds the problem greatly, but it’s worth it.
That being said, I have completed a mere 83 pages – let me catch you up on my thoughts so far. Then I plan to post more regularly as I read.
First, let me say that I am really enjoying this book. I have seen reviews on it saying that it is a beginner’s biography, and that’s a legitimate thought. But because I am studying this book, I am finding a lot more than I expected to find.
I remember scanning the preface at Barnes and Nobles (I couldn’t buy the book that day) and immediately being taken in. I think I am in the frame of mind to want to read a personal biography where the author deliberately puts herself into the story. The preface pretty much states that that is her intention and I accept that. I am becoming increasingly curious about the effect Louisa has on people and truly want to know how Susan Cheever was inspired by her, and why.
Because of her tricky relationship with her own father, John Cheever (a well known author), Cheever focuses a lot on Bronson. So far in all the biographies I’ve read, I have not found a more thoughtful, and fair, assessment of Bronson. He is immensely complex, with his share of sterling qualities and fatal flaws. So far I have not walked away detesting the man, but rather I understand him better. That doesn’t mean, however, that I would have wanted him for my father!
I have pages and pages of notes, too much to go through in this blog. But the fact that I have so many notes says to me that this is a far meatier book than 257 pages would tell you. Another fine example of how you can’t judge a book by its cover. 🙂
I have just finished the Fruitlands experiment and am now into the Hillside era (my favorite era in Louisa’s life). I will share more as I plough through this book.
p.s. I can’t wait to get into Richard Francis’ book, Fruitlands: The Alcott Family and Their Search for Utopia and find out more about the nefarious Charles Lane. That man has fascinated me since my childhood when I first learned about him in Joan Howard’s The Story of Louisa May Alcott. I plan on reading Louisa’s version of Fruitlands simultaneously, Transcendental Wild Oats.