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Extended Audio Sample Louisa May Alcott: A Personal Biography Audiobook, by Susan Cheever Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (350 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Susan Cheever Narrator: Tavia Gilbert Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: November 2010 ISBN: 9781400187904
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Apart from her bestselling Home Before Dark, a biography of her father, John Cheever, and My Name Is Bill, her penetrating portrait of the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, Susan Cheever’s most recent and major success, American Bloomsbury, was a hugely popular nonfiction narrative of the writers and artists (including Emerson, Thoreau, and the Alcott family) of Concord, Massachusetts. With more than 35,000 copies of the book sold since, Cheever has focused on the legendary and much-loved Louisa May Alcott.

Every year, new young readers continue to fall in love with Alcott’s work, from Little Women to her feminist papers. Based on extensive research and access to Alcott’s journals and correspondence, Cheever chronicles all aspects of Alcott’s life, beginning with the fateful meeting of her parents to her death, just two days after that of her dynamic and domineering father, Bronson. Cheever examines Alcott’s role as a woman, a working writer, and a daughter at a time when Alcott’s rejection of marriage in favor of independence—a decision to be no man’s “little woman”—was seen as defying conventional wisdom.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Cheever laces this provocative biography with musings on the genesis of genius, and her identification with Jo March when she was a rebellious girl in the throes of puberty…most will savor this work—surely a future book club staple—as keen, refreshing, and authoritative. ”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nminnig | 2/18/2014

    " Biography of Louisa May, lots of interesting history around that time period. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kathy D | 2/14/2014

    " I love (still) Little Women, and for years it was an annual re-reading for me, along with Betty Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Strong women abound in both books, which I admire to this day. I think Cheever has done an excellent job of doing the shifting of the lens from placing us in Concord in Ms. Alcott's time and then having us step back to the present time. I now feel more connected with the writer Alcott than the writer Jo, and can understand and empathize with her life more. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Athene Carras | 2/13/2014

    " I didn't care for Susan Cheever's writing per se, but the tragic story of this woman's life was incredible. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Catherine | 2/2/2014

    " She supported her whole family including her feckless father with her writing while neglecting her health and her own life. A woman of her time but also ahead of her time. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Laura Lee | 1/21/2014

    " Not much I didn't know, but good read anyway. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Natalie | 1/21/2014

    " I liked this biography, even though sometimes the personal essay/biography combination didn't work quite as well as I thought it should. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jennifer Rockwell | 1/12/2014

    " I thoroughly enjoyed this biography of one of my favorite authors. Susan Cheever manages to capture not only the spirit of the Alcott household, but the spirit of the Transcendental age in Massachusetts, of Alcott, Emerson and Thoreau. The irascible Bronson Alcott's dominating and almost ominous presence in Louisa's life has been the source of marked speculation for years and Cheever's book is no different, but while her conclusions are at times unsettling, they are plausibly derived from her sources and extremely interesting to read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lucretia Lucan | 1/2/2014

    " Good on LMA's family background and relationships. Shallow on her writing. Dismisses Jo's Boys in one paragraph; no discussion of the novel Work. Misspells Friedrich Bhaer's first name as "Frederic" twice in the text and once in the index. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Deborah | 11/15/2013

    " The best biography, I've read/listened to in a long, time. Louisa was a rockstar in her day. JK Rowling for the 19th century. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Claire | 9/2/2013

    " Good intro to LMA's life although I'm not totally sure the execution of the concept of a "personal history" totally works. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jeanne | 7/31/2013

    " Good for Little Women or Alcott fans. More like "musings" than a biography -- but nice info about Concord and the Alcotts, Emersons. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Stefanie Peters | 4/27/2012

    " Cheever's subject is so interesting that she really didn't need to include so much of her own editorializing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carol | 2/5/2012

    " I loved Louisa May Alcott's books as a girl, so this was a somewhat sentimental choice for me. If you're interested in her, it is an interesting read. Some of the best parts for me were Susan Cheever's reflections on the creative process. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Melinda | 10/7/2011

    " sometimes really good but had its plodding parts. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Tracy | 9/10/2011

    " Not engaging at all and I only struggled through to the end because I wanted to know the rest of Louisa May Alcott's story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chiara | 8/8/2011

    " Okayyyyyy.......made it very easy to understand LMA's life as a whole but didn't really focus on smaller, everyday details (which were missed!) "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nette | 4/30/2011

    " Liked the "biography", could have done without the "personal" part. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chiara | 3/14/2011

    " Okayyyyyy.......made it very easy to understand LMA's life as a whole but didn't really focus on smaller, everyday details (which were missed!) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nikie | 3/14/2011

    " This book is a great way to learn of the real Louisa May Alcott, who's life was quite a bit harder than than Jo March's. The trials of her life are heart-breaking. Jo's life must have been what she wished for her own life. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Heather | 2/15/2011

    " I am a sucker for anything by or about Louisa May Alcott. I enjoyed reading about Alcott's life. She lived through some difficult times and events and it was interesting to imagine what may have inspired her for "Little Women". "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Robin | 2/14/2011

    " I had not read any bio of Ms. Alcott prior to this, so it was illuminating about one of my favorites authors. Her relationship with the Transcendalists was very interesting. You forget that all these wonderful literary figures lived in the same period and interacted and influenced each other. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Claire | 1/24/2011

    " Good intro to LMA's life although I'm not totally sure the execution of the concept of a "personal history" totally works. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jamila | 1/10/2011

    " I loved Little Women as a kid. This was an absorbing read. "

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About the Author
Author Susan Cheever

Susan Cheever was born in New York City and graduated from Brown University. A Guggenheim Fellow and a director of the board of the Yaddo Corporation, she currently teaches in the MFA programs at Bennington College and the New School. She lives in New York City.

About the Narrator

Tavia Gilbert, an acclaimed narrator of more than four hundred full-cast and multivoice audiobooks for virtually every publisher in the industry, is an eight-time nominee for the Audie Award and the recipient of seventeen Earphones Awards, a Voice Arts Award, and a Listen-Up Award. With frequent inclusion on best of year and annual top ten lists, she is a trusted and increasingly sought-after actress for work across every genre, from children’s and YA, to literary fiction, nonfiction, and genre fiction. Audible has named her a Genre-Defining Narrator: Master of Memoir, and Library Journal said of her, “as close as you can get to a full-cast narration with a solo voice.” She is a producer, singer, photographer, and a writer, as well as the cofounder of a feminist publishing company, Animal Mineral, with fiction and nonfiction focusing on relationships, love, and identity.