Alcott, Louisa May
Although she is best known for her series of books about the March family, Little Women (1868) and its second part, Good Wives (1869), Little Men (1871), and Jo's Boys (1886), Louisa May Alcott wrote prolifically in most genres, from Gothic thrillers to first-hand accounts of working as a servant and a nurse. Alcott's father was an unsuccessful travelling salesman and rogue preacher, and initially she wrote to relieve the poverty of her family, only achieving international acclaim upon publication of Little Women. This is the book to begin with. Neither melodramatic nor sensational, it describes the daily trials and adventures of the March sisters, Meg, Amy, Beth, and Jo and the devotion of their mother, Marmee. Sentimental, but also an evocative portrayal of a tightly knit female household in which men are peripheral and the women are intensely supportive of one another. The central character Jo's struggle towards financial independence is compelling enough to have sparked off many imitations.
L. M. Montgomery, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Jane Austen.
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