When we read Little Women, didn’t we all think Jo was Louisa May Alcott herself independent and spirited? And didn’t we all wonder who really was Laurie the boy next door who grew into the man Jo loved but could never be with?
The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott is Kelly O’Connor McNees’ attempt to answer those questions for curious readers. Steadily and passionately narrated by Emily Janice Card, McNees’ novel takes us back to the summer of 1855 when Louisa met Joseph Singer and made a decision that would change her life and arguably thousands of “little women’s” lives forever.
Card’s narration is clear and crisp, like the New England summer mornings. Passionate and quick to change just like Louisa, Card’s voice guides us through our heroine’s joy and torment. Her heart is hopelessly devoted to Joseph and her dear family, but her head is telling her to follow her dream of becoming a writer.
McNees peppers the story with carefully researched references to clothing, food, and other cultural signs of the times to really help us imagine life in Walpole, Massachusetts, in the summer of 1855. Interwoven with references to Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass and Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, the novel calls to mind stories by other pioneering female writers about the balance of independence and love Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Edith Wharton’s Age of Innocence.
History tells us the choice Louisa made, but McNees and Card take us back to the moment it happened, answering for readers of all time, who taught Louisa to love? Sarah Evans Hogeboom
In the best-selling 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..
©2010 Kelly O'Connor McNees (P)2010 Penguin
I've read every book about Louisa May Alcott I can lay my hands on. While this story follows her life faithfully, the author's addition of a romance somehow turns Louisa's fascinating life into a giant bore. The narrator has the tone of a cheerleader, which is about as far away from the real Louisa as possible. The bouncy tone was tedious for an 8 hour book, and not even appropriate for the story. I couldn't wait for it to be over.
As an crotchety old man, well beyond the age of sexual passion, I found this only mildly interesting.
I admired her skill at dialog, something I lack entirely, But the emotional crises involved were not that interesting to me.
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