The Louisa Challenge: January Prompts

I got started on the Louisa May Alcott kick after reading Kelly O’Connor McNees’s The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott. I blogged about it here, and suddenly had a group of people signing up to read Alcott’s body of work with me in 2012. That in itself was fabulous, but just as Louisa’s fame grew, so is momentum growing for The Louisa Challenge. I’m honored to have inspired these wonderful readers and writers to join me on a pilgrimage back to the American Renaissance and one of its most revered authors.

The rules are easy; read the book of the month and comment or link up your post. I’ll post prompts the previous week, but you’re not locked into anything. As Louisa herself said, “We all have our own life to pursue, our own kind of dream to be weaving, and we all have the power to make wishes come true, as long as we keep believing.” I look forward to reading about your response to Louisa and her books.

The Louisa Challenge for January: thoughts after reading an Alcott biography

1. After reading an Alcott biography, how did you feel about the real Bronson Alcott?  How do you think his family and especially Louisa were affected by him? Are there fathers like him today?

2. Louisa May Alcott seems like a character who could be time-traveled to 2012 and still be successful. Why did Louisa need to protect her independence during her lifetime and how would she react to today’s complex and frenetic pace of life?

3. Did you know about Louisa’s relationships with the great American writers living in Concord along with the Alcotts? How did being a part of the informal writers’ colony that included Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Margaret Fuller (as well as her father) affect Louisa?

4. Is there anything about Louisa’s life that really surprised you? What was it and why?

5. Which Alcott biographies have you read and which would you recommend to readers? Why or why not?

Watch for Mister Linky on Sunday, January 8. It’s going to be fun, friends!

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4 responses

  1. […] challenge was to read at least one Alcott biography and respond to a prompt. I’ve chosen Prompt […]

  2. Love your challenge! Lost Summer along with Harriet Reisen’s book got me to start my blog devoted to Louisa May Alcott called Louisa May Alcott is My Passion – it’s been a marvelous 18 month journey giving in totally to my love of Alcott, her life and her work after years of flirting. 🙂 Come over for a visit at http://louisamayalcottismypassion.wordpress.com.

    If I may, I’d like to answer some of your questions here:

    1. They broke the mold after Bronson Alcott! He is the most difficult character I have ever come across. I love him and I hate him. The more I read though, the more it helps (though not with the conflict :-)). He’d put his family through Fruitlands, nearly starving them to death over his principles, and yet in order to make the very dull food more palpable, he’d shape the bread into various animals for his children. He could be very endearing. He most definitely was brilliant, but also a megalomaniac

    2. Good question – in some ways Louisa would fit right in (career drive, market saavy, independent spirit) and in other ways she wouldn’t (her strong morals – I think she’d be dismayed at how society is today).

    3. Concord authors – what a rich group of friends! How could she NOT be affected? Very cool. 🙂

    4. I am surprised that a 50-something year old very sick woman could write children’s stories that were so full of imagination – she never lost touch with the child in her.

    5. Eden’s Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father by John Matteson
    Louisa May Alcott and Little Women by Gloria Delamar
    Louisa May Alcott: A Biography by Madeleine B. Stern
    Louisa May: A Modern Biography by Martha Saxton
    Louisa May Alcott A Personal Biography* by Susan Cheever
    Louisa May Alcott The Woman Behind Little Women by Harriet Reisen
    Louisa May Alcott by Katharine Anthony
    The Story of Louisa May Alcott by Joan Howard (children’s book and the one that started it all)

    Yeah, I’m passionate! 🙂

    1. I am just thrilled that you found our Louisa Salon, Susan. I hope that you will stay with us through the book walk. Right now I’m at the Pilgrim’s Progress section of Little Women, which always drives me crazy. It seems as though Louisa was struggling with trying to be a “popular but preachy” author at the beginning of the book, and then she really finds her stride as the book progresses. The preachiness falls away. What do you think? We’ll talk about this again on February 13!

      1. I agree, it can get quite preachy. I am guessing she was adapting herself to the children’s market of that time, hard-headed businesswoman that she was. 🙂 Fortunately, the character development in Little Women majorly trumps the preachiness.

        It took me a while to get into Little Women but the chapter that really opened the door was Beth Finds the Palace Beautiful. That was such a touching chapter!

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