Eden's Outcasts: Book summary and reviews of Eden's Outcasts by John Matteson

Eden's Outcasts

The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father

By John Matteson

Eden's Outcasts

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Book Summary

Louisa May Alcott's name is known universally. Yet, during her youth, the famous Alcott was her father, Bronson—an eminent teacher, lecturer, and admired friend of Emerson and Thoreau. Willful and exuberant, Louisa flew in the face of all her father's intricate theories of child rearing. She, in turn, could not understand the frugal life Bronson preached, one that reached its epitome in the failed utopian community of Fruitlands. In a family that insisted on self-denial and spiritual striving, Louisa dreamed of wealth and fame. At the same time, like most daughters, she wanted her father's approval.

As her father struggled to recover from a breakdown and slowly resurrect his career, Louisa learned to support her family, teaching if she must, but finally finding her vocation in writing. This story of their tense yet loving relationship adds dimensions to Louisa's life, her work, and the relationships of fathers and daughters. 26 illustrations.

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Book Awards

  • award image Pulitzer Prize for Letters, Drama and Music, 2008

Reviews

Media Reviews

"This is really a biography of the whole Alcott family, though it narrows to a dual portrait after the wild success of Little Women in 1868" - Publishers Weekly.

Starred Review: "Matteson's lucid, commanding biography casts new light on an unusual father-daughter bond and a new land at war with itself." - Booklist.

"Matteson's graceful style and careful scholarship confirm his premise that the two were indeed "Eden's outcasts . . . for both, life was a persistent but failed quest for perfection." Highly recommended." - Library Journal.

"Carefully researched and sensitively written. Essential. " - Kirkus Reviews.

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