This weekend I read The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott. I read it while I sewed, and did dishes, the laundry and general house tidying. The copy I borrowed from the library was audio. And the reader was excellent. The thing I loved best about the story, being a big fan of Jo since I first read Little Women, was that Louisa held on to herself. She loved, but refused to give herself up just for love. She was a writer and a determined writer. She loves the young man in the story, Joseph - and it took me half way through to catch on to that, duh - but she will not give up her writing for him. In that day marriage would have meant caring first for him and their family.
Which brings me to the part of the novel which made my blood boil. Not a fictional character, as Joseph was (though he may have some suspicion in fact), but a character who was a man, and the character was closely based on the man. And I can only hope the real Bronson Alcott was more like Mr. March than he was presented in this book because I liked Mr. March, but Bronson Alcott needed a Gibbsion cuff up the back side of his head. Louisa's father presented in this book, and in certain facts I have read, believed in not living off the work of others. No eating cows, or honey, or milk, or eggs. No working in commerce. But he had no great trouble in accepting the money Ralph Waldo Emerson made from his work, or the money his daughters and his wife made from theirs. Or the work his wife and daughters put in keeping the family together, fed, clothed and housed. He even at one time, according to this novel, when his daughters were still young, decided free love was for him and called the family together to inform them he wanted to leave. It is stated in the book that the Alcott women never recovered from this betrayal. And yet they worship him. What gives? I'd have tossed him out on the street. So, perhaps he was more like Mr. March than this story gives him credit for. I hope so.