This slim, readable entry in the A&E Biography series will appeal to fans of Little Women; Ruth makes extensive use of Alcott's journal writings and letters and makes clear where real life and fiction converged. The author describes the Alcotts' difficult lives, due in large part to Bronson, whose philosophical views kept the family near bankruptcy. Although Ruth is careful about her sources and end notes, it's not always apparent which ideas and events are hers and which are from Alcott's writings. Still, this is an interesting look at a well-loved figure, with black-and-white reproductions and photographs for added appeal. It's also a de facto introduction to transcendentalism.