I wanted more than just a soap opera about the Transcendentalists, and this was a bit more, but not a lot more. I enjoyed learning about these renowned figures as people, but would have liked to hear more about their philosophical and literary contributions as well. Still, it's the only book about the Transcendentalist community that is available on audiobook, so I suppose I should be grateful. And I'm not sorry I listened, I'm just left wanting more than I got.
A couple specific comments:
The portrayal of Louisa May Alcott is the most compelling part of the book. Cheever has written a biography of Alcott, and I suspect it is worth the read.
The chronological oddnesses mentioned by other reviewers are real. I wish Cheever had found a better way to address the problems of the interconnecting and overlapping lives. It would probably be less of an issue in a paper book.
Perhaps an abridged version would be better, but this book is just too long with too much minutia for an unabridged audiobook. Gordon-Reed's research is amazingly detailed, but it makes for a tedious audiobook. Two hours in and I have yet to hear anything about Thomas Jefferson or Sally Hemmings. We're still on one of Hemmings' white grandfathers, having completed some introductory material about her black grandmother and a good bit of stage-setting about slavery in Virginia.
I own the book itself and had purchased the audiobook because I never got around to reading the book. Now I think my best strategy is to go to the book to skim the early material and find where the real meat begins. Then I'll skip forward in the audio. Perhaps that will solve the tedium problem.
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