The 1850s were heady times in Concord, Massachusetts: in a town where a woman's petticoat drying on an outdoor line was enough to elicit scandal, some of the greatest minds of our nation's history were gathering in three of its wooden houses to establish a major American literary movement. The Transcendentalists, as these thinkers came to be called, challenged the norms of American society with essays, novels, and treatises whose beautifully rendered prose and groundbreaking assertions still resonate with readers today. Though noted contemporary author Susan Cheever stands in awe of the monumental achievements of such writers as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, and Louisa May Alcott, her personal, evocative narrative removes these figures from their dusty pedestals and provides a lively account of their longings, jealousies, and indiscretions. Thus, Cheever reminds us that the passion of Concord's ambitious and temperamental resident geniuses was by no means confined to the page....
Susan Cheever is the bestselling author of thirteen 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. She teaches in the Bennington College M.F.A. program. She lives in New York City with her family.
"A very charming book.... Affectionate [and] lively....[Cheever] does an admirable job of bringing these long-dead Transcendentalists and abolitionists back to vivid life."
-- USA Today
"With affection, Cheever captures heavyweight writers Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau as they move in and out of each other's lives. Rich with charming anecdotes, the portrait is an undeniable winner."
-- Boston Magazine
"Literary history with a pinch of irreverent salt."