My Heart is Boundless Edited by Eve LaPlante
- Method of Obtaining: I received my copy from the publisher.
- Published by: Free Press
- Release Date: 11/6/2012
In this riveting compilation of Abigail May Alcott’s previously undiscovered and unexplored private writings, biographer Eve LaPlante annotates the letters, poems, recipes, and diaries of the real-life inspiration behind “Marmee” of Little Women, one of the most famous mother figures in American literature.
This companion volume to LaPlante’s groundbreaking Marmee & Louisa covers everything from writing (Abigail’s own ambitions as well as her daughter’s) to family life and the expectations of society. Full of wit and charm, Abigail’s private letters offer a moving, intimate portrait of a woman intellectually ahead of her time who found herself trapped in an unrewarding marriage and who would transfer her wisdom and ambition to her talented daughters, Louisa most of all.
In beautiful prose (a biographer once pointed out that “In some ways, Abby was a better writer than her more famous daughter”), this fantastic new collection lays bare the unparalleled love that Abigail held for her family, in the process restoring a powerful female voice too long lost to history.
- I’ve loved the Alcott’s for years and this looked like a fascinating look at the inspiration for “Marmee” in Little Women.
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What a way to start out 2013 – wrapping up my reading of these lovely bits of notes, letters, and historical tidbits by and about Abigail May Alcott. My Heart is Boundless is a nice, tidy, organized book that chronologically (mostly) follows Abigail’s life through her own writing and reflection.
I’ve been a fan of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women since I was a young girl. I was the oldest of four girls (for a time, before three brothers and two more sisters came along) and related well to Meg – the oldest of Louisa’s quartet. I admired her quiet dignity, her willingness to accept what happened, and understood how she managed being surrounded by the sisters she was surrounded by. So it was a bit of a delight for me to learn that Louisa’s mother, Abigail, also had quite a few sisters and brothers and I hungrily dug in to her writings.
I identified strongly with Louisa’s desire for knowledge and information – but not only that, her desire to keep her family close. There was quite a bit of tragedy that struck the May family and Abigail appeared to be the bedrock through it all. These writings are a perfect example of how a woman of her time need not be shut away, but rather could find happiness and fulfillment in ways other than motherhood.
My only issue with this collection is how choppy it can be. It’s mostly chronological, but I needed to finish it and would have rather spent time reading portions and then moving on to other books. It does not make for a comfortable, “unputdownable” book – but rather is perhaps intended to be a book to be read in short bites. The other small issue I had was with the numerous footnotes – every name seemed to be identified by the author every single time it cropped up (which was nice at first, but after a while I began to feel like I was being treated like I was stupid for “not getting it” when I was). Still, easily enough avoided if you are someone who can resist the temptation of those footnotes.
I recommend this for fans of Louisa May Alcott. I think you will find much of Marmee hiding in this book, waiting to be awakened.
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