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Posts Tagged ‘Louisa May Alcott’

A few weeks ago, I made a pilgrimage I’ve wanted to make for years – possibly ever since I picked up Little Women and fell in love with it. (It’s been my favorite book since first grade.) On Columbus Day, Abi, Shanna and I headed to charming, literary Concord, and to the Alcott home, Orchard House.

You can’t take photos inside the house, which still contains many of the Alcott family’s original furnishings and possessions, including Jo’s (Louisa’s) “mood pillow,” Beth’s (Lizzie’s) little piano, a copy of Meg’s (Anna’s) marriage license, books belonging to several family members, and Amy’s (May’s) drawings on the fireplace, the breadboard and even the windowsills. (I was in heaven – it was literally like walking through the book!) Anyway, here’s a view of the exterior:

Also on the property is the Concord School of Philosophy, opened by Louisa’s father in his last years. It’s unheated and chilly, but beautiful:

We had a fabulous time touring the house (kitchen, parlor, dining room, bedrooms and Mr. Alcott’s study) and browsing the gift shop (where I could have spent sooo much money). Since the Alcotts supported the suffrage movement, the gift shop sells mugs and teacups with “Votes for Women” printed on them. Abi and I each bought one, and I think Louisa, Jo March and Mrs. Banks (from Mary Poppins) would all be proud.

We drove into Concord proper to seek out some lunch and explore Main Street, which has adorable shops and a few monuments:

(This is the Civil War monument, which figures prominently in the Mother-Daughter Book Club series – the girls are always riding their bikes past it. And the leaves are so gorgeous right now…)

We all took about a zillion photos of the beautiful little church on Monument Square, complete with windswept leaves and cloud-brushed blue sky:

We all felt like we were walking through a storybook all day…the whole town is just so charming, and quaint, and pleasantly bustling. And since I have idolized Jo March for years (though I’m also part Meg) and read Little Women so many times that my old, orange-covered Yearling edition is quite tattered…well. There aren’t even words to describe how it felt to finally tour Orchard House.

I love living in New England: everywhere I go, I walk through history (political, literary and otherwise), which then becomes a part of my personal history. Or in some cases, I get to see the places where parts of my personal history were born. I get to close the loop, so to speak, and then keep writing my own story in a place that teems with so many voices, so many histories…and infinite possibilities.

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(Editor’s note: I met the lovely Erin Blakemore via Twitter and blogs a few months ago, and have been eagerly awaiting the release of her book, The Heroine’s Bookshelf – on sale last week. She’s doing a book signing at Wellesley Booksmith this Wednesday, as well as a panel discussion at the Boston Public Library on Thursday. I’m so excited to finally meet her! Read on for some surprising facts about one of her – and my – favorite authors.)

6 Things You Didn’t Know About Louisa May Alcott

When I started writing The Heroine’s Bookshelf, I knew I was excited to find out more about the lives of the women behind my favorite literary heroines.  What I never expected was to become even more fascinated (okay, semi-obsessed) with one of American letters’ most irascible and intense figures.  Here are six things I was surprised to hear about Louisa May Alcott: 

1.  She hated fame.  When Little Women hit big, Louisa hated the public outcry for information on their favorite new author.  She resented the people who felt it was okay to knock on her door, interrupt her life, and demand her attention.
2.  She might have been a drug addict.  Racked by pain from the time of her ill-fated stint as a Civil War nurse, Louisa turned to morphine and opium for pain relief and sleep.
3.  She didn’t just write girls’ stories.  In fact, Louisa penned some scandalous stuff — racy stories full of sex, violence, and unsavory characters.
4.  She didn’t love being a little woman.  In fact, Louisa railed against her role as a daughter and a woman her entire life long.
5.  She was an adoptive mother.  When Louisa’s sister May died tragically young in Europe, Louisa inherited her daughter, Louisa (“Lulu”).  She also legally adopted the son of her sister Anna, willing him the rights to her work.
6.  She was a runner.  Only about a century ahead of her time.

Want to learn more about Louisa and eleven other fascinating authors?  The Heroine’s Bookshelf finds life lessons in some of literature’s most enduring books.  Visit http://theheroinesbookshelf.com to learn more.

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