Published in 1873, this autobiographical novel has been called the adult Little Women. It follows the semi-autobiographical story of an orphan named Christie Devon, who, having turned twenty-one, announces “a new Declaration of Independence” and leaves her uncle’s house in order to pursue economic self-sufficiency and to find fulfillment in her profession. Against the backdrop of the Civil War years, Christie works as a servant, actress, governess, companion, seamstress, and army nurse—all jobs that Alcott knew from personal experience—exposing the often insidious ways in which the employments conventionally available to women constrain their self-determination. Alcott’s most overtly feminist novel, Work breaks new ground in the literary representation of women, as its heroine pushes at the boundaries of nineteenth-century expectations and assumptions. The novel is supplemented here with all the usual Library of America features, plus a conversation with editor Susan Cheever, and a reading group guide.
About the author
Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) was a prolific writer, author of the beloved Little Women trilogy (1868-1886) as well as more than two dozen other novels and story collections, including some under the pen name A. M. Barnard. She served brielfy as a nurse during the Civil War, and was a passionate advocate for social reforms throughout her life.
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