18/04/2014

Invincible Louisa (by Cornelia Meigs)

I have no idea how this little paperback ended up on our shelves. Maybe I picked it up in a charity shop, or perhaps someone moved and passed it on to me. In any case, I had not previously read it. I knew nothing about Cornelia Meigs, the author, but apparently she wrote quite a few books for children. In any case, I was interested to learn a bit more about Louisa M Alcott, who is best known for her classic novel for girls, 'Little Women' and its sequels. So I've been reading this over the past ten days or so.

Apparently 'Invincible Louisa' won a Newbery medal, so perhaps I'm a bit of a philistine.. but I didn't find this particularly engaging. Having said that, I did find it interesting to see how Louisa M Alcott's life was mirrored, in many ways, by her novels, particularly those featuring the March family. The research for this biography was evidently extensive, impressively so in a pre-internet era. But despite Alcott's lifeline and circumstances being portrayed thoroughly, I found the book dry - for my tastes it was too full of description and facts, with little characterisation, nothing much to engage my interest.

Perhaps there was too little source material available, or perhaps the author simply wanted to outline Alcott's life in this factual way; evidently it was considered an excellent work by those who award medals. But despite it being a relatively easy read, if a bit rambling, I found it hard going in places, and difficult to concentrate. I rapidly lost track of all the many locations where the family lived, and most of the family friends, too, meaning that I rather missed the point of many of the philosophical discussions.

It wasn't a bad book, just dry; I guess it's worth perusing by anyone interested in Louisa M Alcott's life. Still in print in the US; not in the UK, but fairly widely available second-hand.

Review by copyright 2014 Sue's Book Reviews

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