C.A. Young's Reviews > American Bloomsbury: Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau: Their Lives, Their Loves, Their Work

American Bloomsbury by Susan Cheever
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Feb 24, 2011

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Read from February 22 to 24, 2011

I'm a fan of Thoreau, Hawthorn, and Emerson, and got a lot of exposure to Lousia May Alcott's work as a child, so American Bloomsbury was the sort of book that ties a lot of threads together for me. I'd never really understood just how closely entwined their lives were (or how closely Margaret Fuller's was), or put the timeline of their lives into history properly. I was surprised to discover the way their lives in 1850s Concord connected with the history of my state via John Brown, and by a small story about Mark Twain's visit where he'd meant to honor Emerson, who was by then suffering from Alzheimer's.

Cheever's style is easy to digest. She writes in short chapters that capture a particular moment or factor in the lives of her subjects. It's a book that's both easy to put down and pick back up. There are times -- increasingly frequent as the book progresses -- where Cheever's own impressions of things and places start to dot the territory. I found these jarring on the first read, though less so on later page-throughs.

All in all, a book I'd recommend to anyone interested in how these writers, their lives, and their works intersect.
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