Sunday, February 25, 2007

Susan Cheever's "American Bloomsbury"

Susan Cheever's new book is American Bloomsbury: Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau: Their Lives, Their Loves, Their Work.

Cheever is the author of eleven previous books, including five novels and the memoirs Note Found in a Bottle and Home Before Dark. Her work has been nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award and won the Boston Globe Winship Medal. She is a Guggenheim Fellow, a member of the Corporation of Yaddo, and a member of the Author's Guild Council.

Among the praise for American Bloomsbury:
"Beguiling ... lively and insightful introduction to the personalities and achievements of the men and women who were seminal figures in America's literary renaissance.... [Cheever] keenly analyzes the positive and negative ways they influenced one another's ideas and beliefs and the literature that came out of "this sudden outbreak of genius."
-- Publishers Weekly

"[Cheever] explores the interpersonal relationships linking the prospectively famous writers Emerson drew in. In the transcendentalist florescence of the 1840s and 1850s, the aspirant writers tried out their ideas and idealism in conversation at Emerson's house, alongside Concord's roads, or afloat on its creeks. Moving among descriptions of such haunts, Cheever constructs a many-layered contemplation of this distinctive collection of American literary icons in their formative periods, and encompasses day-to-day events and the character of their attractions, as between a married Emerson and Margaret Fuller, whom Emerson lodged in his house. Emotionally warm and critically engaged, Cheever's history successfully evokes the incubation of Concord's literary glory."
-- Booklist

" having a Christmas present arrive early.... [Cheever] brings these icons to life as men and women who fell in painful love, lived in crowded quarters, tramped on muddy roads, and 'walked arm in arm under Concord's great elms.' She also does a wonderful job of resurrecting the 19th century itself, and reminding us of how often her subjects were cold, hungry - well, the Alcotts, anyway - uncomfortable, and at the mercy of unenlightened doctors who harmed at least as often as they healed."
-- Marjorie Kehe, Christian Science Monitor
Read an excerpt from American Bloomsbury and check out Susan Cheever's favorite books.

Visit Susan Cheever's Amazon blog, her official website, and the Page 69 Test results for American Bloomsbury.

--Marshal Zeringue