wrote relatively little about him. Instead, Marmee & Louisa suggests thatAlcott wrote with and for her mother.
“We March On,” read the purple socks I bought in January at the Orchard House gift shop. This painful pun hovers just above the doll-likefigure of a dark-haired woman who is labeled as, but looks nothing like,Louisa May Alcott. The bottoms of the socks bear an additional motto:“Nothing is impossible to a determined woman.” It took me a bit ofsearching to find this line of dialogue in “The Abbot’s Ghost: or, MauriceTreherne’s Temptation,” a thriller that Alcott published pseudonymouslyin January 1867. Edith Snowden, the speaker of the line, is determined touncover a secret. Despite many machinations, she discovers only half thetruth; the rest is confessed by her would-be lover on his deathbed. Takenin its original context, the sock-quote is actually ironic: Edith’s determination causes misunderstanding and heartache. But taken on the sock,the quote is celebratory, affirming our twenty-first-century view of theindomitable Alcott. We repurpose the line without pausing to note thatits speaker reforms, swayed by the example of a younger, gentler woman.Inflexible determination is never a virtue in Alcott’s stories, but it sells asone in the well-stocked shop just downstairs from where she wrote herway to fame. Which quotes will be mined when the next movie comesout? Versions of Alcott and Little Women proliferate now in the gift shopas in the works considered in this review. Quaint, queer, conservative,malcontent, these many and cherished Alcotts all march on.
Stephanie Carpenter’s first collection, Missing Persons, won the2017 Press 53 Award for Short Fiction. Her work has appearedin the Missouri Review, Witness, Big Fiction, Crab Orchard Review, and other journals. She teaches creative writing and literature at Michigan Tech University, and she visits Concord, Massachusetts, whenever she can.