by Megan Marshall
Publishers Weekly Pulitzer Prize finalist Marshall (The Peabody Sisters) takes on the life of a lesser-known American writer in this biography of Margaret Fuller, whose book Women in the Nineteenth Century was merely the most successful among those she produced during a lifetime of impassioned intellectual discourse, both public and private. Marshall sticks closely to the primary documents of Fuller's life. Though the biography reads as a narrative, the text is peppered with quotations from Fuller's letters, essays, fiction, and personal diaries. This abundance of detail sometimes descends into tedium. Though organized around places Fuller lived, the book's real driving force is her relationships, from the perfectionist father who gave her a thirst for education early on to the circle of academics and radicals over whom Fuller exerted her influence, among them Ralph Waldo Emerson. Marshall can't avoid the romantic scandal of Fuller's life-her accidental pregnancy by and secret marriage to the noble-born Giovanni Ossoli. The couple died in a shipwreck along with their newborn son soon after. But this scandal isn't the focus of the book. Instead, Marshall seeks to render the plight of a female intellectual struggling to balance societal expectations with her lofty ambitions and ideals. The book's success comes from the way that Marshall allows the reader to understand and empathize with Fuller in her plight. Agent: Katinka Matson, Brockman Agency. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Book list *Starred Review* The mind has a light of its own, wrote Margaret Fuller, and the radiance of her inner world vitalizes Marshall's profoundly simpatico portrait of this path-breaking feminist and courageous journalist and writer. Marshall encountered Fuller while working on her acclaimed first book, The Peabody Sisters (2005), and she inhabits Fuller's dramatic, oft-told story with unique intimacy by virtue of her fluency in and judicious quoting of Fuller's extraordinarily vivid letters. Marshall conveys Fuller's passionate intensity, unusual intellect and outsized personality, expansive sympathy, and extraordinary valor as she illuminates family struggles, social obstacles, and private heartache in conjunction with each phase of Fuller's phenomenal achievements as an innovative teacher, lecturer, and editor. Marshall brings stirring historical and psychological insights to Fuller's complicated relationship with Emerson and the other transcendentalists, her journey west and response to the horrific plight of Native Americans, her gripping dispatches on social ills as a front-page columnist for Horace Greeley's New York Tribune, and her triumphs in Europe as America's first female foreign correspondent. How spectacularly detailed and compassionate Marshall's chronicle is of Fuller's scandalous love for an Italian soldier, the birth of their son, her heroic coverage of the 1849 siege of Rome, and her and her family's tragic deaths when their ship wrecks in sight of the American coast. A magnificent biography of a revolutionary thinker, witness, and writer.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2010 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.