Friday, November 20, 2020

Book Review: Invincible Louisa by Cornelia Meigs (1933)

Invincible Louisa is a juvenile biography of Louisa May Alcott, which won the Newbery Medal in 1934. This book covers events in Louisa's life that inspired characters and events in Little Women as well as other influential experiences that shaped the author. Through this book, young readers gain an understanding of the impractical ideals of Bronson Alcott (Louisa's father), the steadfast love of Abba Alcott (her mother), her relationship with her sisters, her work as a Civil War nurse and how she came to make a career of writing. 

When I read Little Women a couple of years ago, I didn't quite love it as much as many other readers do, but I did become fascinated by the Alcott family and the circle of people they knew in Concord, Massachusetts. Early last year, I read We Alcotts by Aileen Fisher and Olive Rabe, which was my first introduction to the life of Abba Alcott and her husband, Bronson, and ever since I've wanted to read more about Concord. I challenged myself to read five Concord-oriented books in 2020, but Invincible Louisa is the only one I've picked up so far. Thankfully, it was thoroughly engaging and has inspired me to try to finish this challenge before January.

The writing in this book is of very high quality but it still reads fairly quickly. It was interesting to see the real-life events and people that were included in Little Women as well as the things that went differently for Louisa than for Jo, her Little Women counterpart. It was also inspiring to see how the family handled financial difficulty and uncertainty, and also how Louisa's work during the Civil War changed her and matured her. Though I had read about many of these things from Abba's perspective, seeing them through Louisa's eyes added dimensions to my understanding of this family.

My girls (and boy) are still a few years away from being able to appreciate Little Women, but when they do finally read it, I'm excited to be able to share this book with them as well. It's definitely a worthwhile companion to the story, as well as a well-written biography on its own. 

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