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Download Louisa May Alcott: The Woman behind Little Women Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Louisa May Alcott: The Woman behind Little Women Audiobook, by Harriet Reisen Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (672 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Harriet Reisen Narrator: Harriet Reisen Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: December 2009 ISBN: 9781400184453
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Louisa May Alcott portrays a writer as worthy of interest in her own right as her most famous character, Jo March, and addresses all aspects of Alcott’s life: the effect of her father’s self-indulgent utopian schemes; her family’s chronic economic difficulties and frequent uprootings; her experience as a nurse in the Civil War; and the loss of her health and frequent recourse to opiates in search of relief from migraines, insomnia, and symptomatic pain. Stories and details culled from Alcott’s journals; her equally rich letters to family, friends, publishers, and admiring readers; and the correspondence, journals, and recollections of her family, friends, and famous contemporaries provide the basis for this lively account of the author’s classic rags-to-riches tale.

Alcott would become the equivalent of a multimillionaire in her lifetime based on the astounding sales of her books, leaving contemporaries like Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, and Henry James in the dust. This biography explores Alcott’s life in the context of her works, all of which are to some extent autobiographical. A fresh, modern take on this remarkable and prolific writer, who secretly authored pulp fiction, harbored radical abolitionist views, and completed heroic service as a Civil War nurse, Louisa May Alcott is also the story of how the all-time beloved American classic Little Women came to be. This revelatory portrait will present the popular author as she was and as she has never been seen before.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Enchanting…. [A] full and vivid portrait.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “This magnificent new biography…will become not only a bestseller but also a classic.”

    Washington Times

  • “This compelling biography allows [listeners] to know Alcott and appreciate her as ‘her own best character.’”

    Library Journal

  • “Reisen does a fine job narrating her outstanding biography.”

    Booklist (audio review)

  • “A deliciously palatable biography of the iconic writer.”

    Kirkus Reviews

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carol Carlson | 1/21/2014

    " Enjoyed learning more about the time in which Louisa lived. Her father was certainly like the father in March. How many times could a man fail! Based on her mother's portrayal, I can understand how and why Louisa became a strong woman. I found it interesting that she used her "trashy" writing to support her writing Little Women. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jenny | 1/21/2014

    " The book was slow to get into and the beginning of her life felt like it lasted years to read. The most fascinating part was all the influential people she grew up knowing. After reading the book I think I feel really sorry for her. I may read her books now looking for more autobiographical info, but I hope not! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Theresa Sivelle | 1/21/2014

    " I really did like this book. It was interesting to hear about the life of the very famous author. Although, I do not remember reading any of her books, not even little women and I call tell you that I was the only one at my book club who had not read Little Women, and I'm guessing I am one of very few in my generation that hasn't. Thinking I may need to get the book on CD. Times were sure different then. At least she was able to enjoy the fruits of her labor before she passed away, unlike so many authors then. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ketti | 1/20/2014

    " If you love Louisa May...this is the book for you. Great insight on her life. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tina | 1/14/2014

    " This was very well researched and detailed account of Alcott's life. It was very interesting to read about her family life, and how her writing and success literally kept her family afloat and cared for. My one little disappointment was how Alcott disdained her fans, but I suppose it was understandable. I adore "Little Women" and have not read any of her other works. Maybe one day... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sarah Sullivan | 1/9/2014

    " I love LMA enough to know I'd probably like this book, but Reisen goes above and beyond straight facts to craft a compelling, readable narrative that made me want to go back and reread everything Alcott ever wrote (especially the ones I never read). "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Smedette | 1/4/2014

    " So well-written. The research and detail is extraordinary; will never read "Little Women" quite the same way again. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Andrea Quickel | 12/29/2013

    " This book is informative and well written, but could be very slow at times. Harriet Reisen obviously worked very hard and did very extensive research. I guess I just was suprised with how low key and basic her life was. The book just seemed to drag on and on at times. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jennifer Caruso | 12/13/2013

    " I really loved this book! It was very interesting to learn about the story behind the story. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Terri | 12/11/2013

    " I love that Louisa grew up to be rich, successful, and HAPPY! It was her childhood goal to savor these experiences. There is nothing in the world more powerful than "girl power".... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carinna Tarvin | 12/3/2013

    " I would like to give this three and a half stars. Some parts were tedious and others were fascinating. LMA was not as fun as I'd hoped she'd be. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Hannah | 11/24/2013

    " Not the best book I've ever read.... but it was entertaining. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Debbie Ensign | 10/3/2013

    " Really liked this! I think it's one of the best biographies I've read. It's a vivid account of Louisa's life, during such an important time in our history. Somehow, I never read "Little Women" while I was growing up, and this book inspired me to read it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Readnponder | 3/8/2013

    " I read this in preparation for a trip later this summer to Concord, MA. I want to visit Alcott's home, Orchard House. The book reacquainted me with my favorite childhood author. It also whetted my appetite to read some of Alcott's adult fiction. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kris | 1/19/2013

    " I'm one of Louisa's great-neices (how many greats? I'm not sure)... now I'll have to ask my mom which sister is my great-great grandmother... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Katie | 10/13/2012

    " Little Women is one of my all time favorite books, so I enjoyed this look into the author's life. Reisen draws many parallels to the events in Little Women and especially likens Jo to Alcott. I would definitely recommend this book to any fans of Little Women. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nancy | 4/12/2012

    " I was completely enthralled throughout the entire book. I learned as much about 19th century New England as I did Louisa May Alcott. How fascinating it must have been to be connected with such an influential circle of writers and thinkers! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Josephine | 12/7/2011

    " Very compelling biography - had no idea of the interesting life she lived, or the demons she had. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jena Gardner | 11/15/2011

    " Mostly, this book made me mad at Bronson Alcott and his ineptitude of managing family life. I notice that so many biographies of women of the Victorian Era end up being at least fifty percent about their fathers. An interesting woman, an interesting life. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Aimee | 6/15/2011

    " I'm stalled out on this one. It's now an overdue library book. Feel like I SHOULD finish it, but I don't feel like reading it anymore. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Melinda | 4/27/2011

    " It read like a slow textbook. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Karen | 4/23/2011

    " I felt ho-hum about the first half, but LOVED the second half, which I think says more about me than the book since I was more interested in LMA's writing life than her childhood. The book was well written and the author clearly did a lot of research. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carinna | 2/11/2011

    " I would like to give this three and a half stars. Some parts were tedious and others were fascinating. LMA was not as fun as I'd hoped she'd be. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jenny | 2/6/2011

    " If you loved her Little Women series this is a MUST!! Better than fiction! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Katie | 12/27/2010

    " Little Women is one of my all time favorite books, so I enjoyed this look into the author's life. Reisen draws many parallels to the events in Little Women and especially likens Jo to Alcott. I would definitely recommend this book to any fans of Little Women. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dave | 12/17/2010

    " An excellent biography. Very well researched and written. Helps me understand what was going through Louisa's head when she did her writing. "

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About the Author

Harriet Reisen has directed, produced, and developed new programs in various facets of media, including television, radio, print, and publicity. Her writing has spanned comedy, drama, nonfiction, documentary, magazine journalism, radio commentary, film criticism, children’s books, and songs. Over the past twenty years, what began as an idea for a film biography of Louisa May Alcott developed into a passion for the subject herself. A former fellow in screenwriting at the American Film Institute, Reisen has written dramatic and historical documentary scripts for PBS and HBO and radio commentary for Morning Edition and Marketplace. She lives in Massachusetts.