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14 April 2010

Book Review: The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott

Title: The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott
Author: Kelly O'Connor McNees
Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam
Publication Date: April 1, 2010
Hardcover: 352 pages
ISBN: 978-0399156526
Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction

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From the Publisher:

In the bestselling tradition of Loving Frank and March comes a novel for anyone who loves Little Women.

Millions of readers have fallen in love with Little Women. But how could Louisa May Alcott-who never had a romance-write so convincingly of love and heart-break without experiencing it herself?

Deftly mixing fact and fiction, Kelly O'Connor McNees imagines a love affair that would threaten Louisa's writing career-and inspire the story of Jo and Laurie in Little Women. Stuck in small-town New Hampshire in 1855, Louisa finds herself torn between a love that takes her by surprise and her dream of independence as a writer in Boston. The choice she must make comes with a steep price that she will pay for the rest of her life.

My review:

Author Kelly O'Connor McNees takes a look at the summer of 1855 and imagines a love affair that blooms between 22 year-old Louisa May Alcott and fictional Joseph Singer. One must bear in mind this is a work of fiction with some historical documentation interspersed throughout the novel, as there is no actual documentation of what transpired that summer of 1855. The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott is a delightful and engaging look at what might have been and quite possibly how Alcott was able to write about love and loss so well. McNees writes a delightful novel of young love and the inner struggle Louisa May Alcott faces, along with the choices she must make between the freedom to be a writer or choosing love and becoming a wife and mother. Would she have able to be a wife, mother and writer back in 1855? Possibly under the perfect conditions, yet life is not always perfect and most likely she would not have been allotted such freedoms. The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott is a fascinating look into what the author imagines could have occurred and the events that may have transpired to make Alcott the author she became. While McNees gives the reader plenty of insight into the family and into the life of Joseph, I did not find them all that interesting, for me something was off and I found my mind wandering at times. It is quite possible I was comparing this novel to Little Women, I certainly hope I was not, however, I simply did not feel a connected with the family or Joseph. With my concerns voiced, I appreciated the thoroughness of McNees research through the writing and journals of Alcott to develop the characters of the family and one can see the bonds, however I felt it a stretch to envision fictional Joseph as any sort of catalyst for her most popular novel, Little Women. The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott makes for a fun and faced-paced story of what may have occurred leading Louisa May Alcott to choose the path she did and how that path may have influenced her writings. Due to the very concept of this book I would strongly recommend this novel as a discussion book.

To learn more about Kelly O'Connor McNees please visit her website of follow her on Twitter.

I received a complimentary copy of The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O'Connor McNees from G.P. Putnam's Sons/Riverhead to offer my honest review of the novel. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned novel.



susan said...

I am intrigued by this! I have been looking, but unable to find March. I hope I can find them both! Thanks for the tip!

Samantha said...

Sounds like an intriguing novel. I think books written about well known authors from a different vantage point are interesting. I'll have to pick this one up! :)

brizmus said...

I love fiction about real people - it's always so fun to hear what other people can imagine might have happened.

Dr. Bill (William L.) Smith said...

You are so neat and to the point!

Bill ;-)

Hope you'll check out my book giveaway:

Bobbie said...

This sounds like a great read! Thanks for your review!

Chennifer said...

sounds very interesting! I love books that you can discuss, especially between women. I have a book review of a strong woman's book at my blog