Narrating “Work, A Story of Experience” wins over a new Alcott fan

Rebecca H. Lee, the narrator of “Work, A Story of Experience.”

Rebecca Lee never dreamed that doing her job would gain her a new literary friend.

An audiobook narrator, improv actor, and teaching artist, Lee produced Work, A Story of Experience for

Work, one of Louisa May Alcott’s lesser-known adult novels, tells the story of heroine Christie Devon’s ambition and struggle to work outside the home rather than marry. Alcott drew upon her own experiences as a teacher, actress,  governess, servant, and nurse to trace Christie’s journey from the thrill of self-sufficiency to the despair of destitution, loneliness, and failure in the public sphere of work. The friendship, support, and compassion of fellow women lead Christie to eventually triumph over the many obstacles in her life. She finds love in her marriage to David Sterling (inspired by family friend Henry David Thoreau), only to lose him during the Civil War. The novel ends with Christie forming a sisterhood of women to offer the same kind of support she herself had received.

Upon completion of the assignment, Lee sent me the following email:

“I became a huge fan of Louisa May Alcott a few months ago (kind of late in life!) when I produced and narrated an audiobook version of Work: A Story of Experience. I had never read Little Women or any other works by her as a child, but when I read Work for the first time (as a 40-something year old) I understood how she became such a beloved author by so many women and why her writing has stood the test of time. She is now my answer to the question, “If you could have a meal with any one person in the world, dead or alive…”. 

work a story of experience cover

Naturally, I had to find out more, so I sent her some questions:

  1. What was it about Work that captured your imagination?
    I loved how the character of “Christie,” who is very similar to Louisa May Alcott, didn’t follow the beaten path, despite the pressure of conforming to the social norms of the time. It amazed me how much I related to the story, although it was written well over a century ago.
  1. You mentioned that you’d love to sit down to dinner with Louisa – what would you ask her? What would you want to know?
    I feel like we are so similar; we would just start talking and hit it off. Maybe I would ask her if she knew of other women her age who were as progressive as she was. Did she get inspiration from anyone of her own generation, or was she influenced mainly by her parents and their contemporaries?
  2. Have you researched Louisa? What do you know about her?
    Yes. I was fascinated by her life and the similarities to the main character in Work so I researched her work life and wrote a short biography (under a pseudonym) that I put at the end of the audiobook. I found it interesting that she had so many jobs, including being a nurse in the Civil War, and that she knew and was influenced by other famous American authors like Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson. I also learned that she took part in the suffragette movement early on.
  3. Have you read Little Women since you completed this project? If so, what do you think?
    Yes. I have mixed feelings about Little Women. I am fascinated with the story. I love reading books like Little Women because they are a time capsule, and I experience life in the 1800s through the words of a great author. I never read it as a child, though. My first time reading it was as an adult, so the thing that struck me the most was how often all of the little women verbalized their moral lessons. It came off a bit preachy to me, and yet, I wonder, with the family that the author grew up in being so open and honest, writing letters to each other etc., if perhaps speaking about (or writing about) trying to be better, more well behaved, etc., was just normal to them. They definitely seemed more grown up than their ages would suggest. Then again, she must have given it the title Little Women for a reason!
  4. Are you aware of Louisa’s “blood and thunder” stories (aka, pulp fiction)? If so, have you read any of the stories, and what did you think?
    I have not read any of these stories, but I am very interested in reading some of them if I can get my hands on them!
  1. Please tell us more about yourself.
    I settled down about four years ago with my boyfriend in my hometown of Seattle after spending much of my adult life traveling and working in six countries and four US states. In 2001, after earning degrees in Music and Drama from the University of Washington, I left my hometown to work in the entertainment industry, going wherever the wind took me or wherever my skills were appreciated as long as I could express my creativity as a performer. A few years ago, I started narrating audiobooks and found that I could work from home, which meant I could live near my family and have pets. I currently spend my days recording while my cat sleeps outside the glass door of my sound booth, teaching improv acting, and volunteering at a local animal shelter.

Lee’s story affirms Louisa May Alcott’s continued relevancy. A woman ahead of her time, Alcott’s words and legacy continue to reach beyond the boundaries of time to inspire readers today. This website wouldn’t exist if I didn’t fully believe that myself. 🙂

Work, A Story of Experience is now available on Judging from early reviews, Rebecca H. Lee has done her job well. 

Visit Rebecca H. Lee’s website at

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One Reply to “Narrating “Work, A Story of Experience” wins over a new Alcott fan”

  1. The women in my branch of the Alcott family are/were independent,spirited,and quite similar to our distant cousin. But it was our father who was most influential, just as I believe Bronson was in Louisa’s life.

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