Reviews for Margaret Fuller : A New American Life

Booklist Reviews 2013 March #1
*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. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2013 February #1
A deeply sympathetic life of an exceptional mind, protofeminist and revolutionary. Embedded in the Emersonian milieu as biographer (The Peabody Sisters: Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism, 2005) and professor (Emerson Coll.), Pulitzer finalist Marshall is perfectly suited to her material, so much so that she frequently takes on the highhanded, emotive tone of her subject. Margaret Fuller (1810–1850) was the close colleague of Ralph Waldo Emerson, fellow editor of the transcendentalist journal The Dial, teacher and author of the groundbreaking feminist study Woman in the Nineteenth Century. The oldest daughter of a tyrannical lawyer and congressman in Massachusetts, Fuller demonstrated early on her abundant intellectual gifts. However, instead of attending Harvard, she had to sublimate her "unfocused striving and rankling frustration over family obligations" and teach her smaller siblings. When her father died in 1835, it fell on Fuller to take care of her mother and siblings, as a teacher and fledgling writer, yet his death also freed her to pursue her personal journey. Initiated into reformist ideas while teaching at Bronson Alcott's Temple School and plunged into Emerson's circle, Fuller moved from Providence to Boston to New York, working on translations, leading a series of conversation classes with women and assuming editorship of the transcendentalist organ, before restlessly moving on to Horace Greeley's New-York Tribune. Marshall's discovery of a late-life journal reveals Fuller's last beatific years in Rome as a correspondent, when she met the younger Giovanni Angelo Ossoli during the perilous revolutionary era of 1848. Bound home with their young son, the family perished together in the wreck of the Elizabeth off the coast of Fire Island in 1850. Friend of intellectual lights of the day, cultural emissary and author in her own right, Fuller had finally attained her own destiny. Lively, intuitive study of a remarkable American character. Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 January #3

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.)

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