Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O'Connor McNees

"Don't laugh at the spinsters, dear girls, for often very tender, tragic romances are hidden away in the hearts that beat so quietly under their sober gowns...."
Louisa May Alcott (Little Women)

my thoughts:

Little Women..... just thinking about Jo, Meg, Beth, Amy, Laurie, and Marmee brings back such fond memories....truly, they are old friends in the scrapbook of my memories. It was one of the first books that I read where the characters truly seemed to be alive and flesh and blood; and naturally, I was drawn to the independent and spirited bookworm, Jo. I loved her big dreams and her courageous heart, and was naive enough to believe that her adoring Laurie was the perfect choice for her happily-ever-after. Imagine my dismay when I learned that the fairy tale ending with Laurie was not to be. Kelly McNees must have had those same thoughts as she wrote, The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott.

Using history and facts from Alcott's journals and letters, Kelly McNees creates a lovely fictional account of the summer of 1855 when, as a twenty-two year old aspring writer with big dreams, Louisa moves to Walpole, New Hampshire with her family. Thankful for the charity of a generous uncle's home, the Alcott women must struggle daily to keep food on the table as their father, a philosopher and Transcendentalist, shuns working for payment. Louisa, who experiences such deep convictions of inner strength, indepedence, and a sense of self-worth, is determined to create a better life for herself than she sees for her mother and sisters. Not desiring to be burdened with society's expectations of marriage and motherhood for her, Louisa keeps her goal of becoming an independent writer firmly in her mind. The writings of Walt Whitman are the song of her heart....."I celebrate myself..."

It is during this summer that Louisa meets Joseph Singer, a likeable young man who works in his father's dry goods store. He is delighted to meet the Alcott sisters, and they begin a friendship of shared picnics, plays, and simple activities. His interest in Louisa develops over time, and although she views Joseph as a good friend, she refuses to allow her thoughts to stray from her firmly-entrenched goal of earning her own way in the world. But hearts have a way of changing, and sometimes destiny steps in and requires you to make choices and sacrifices.

A bittersweet love story, sprinkled with innocent past-times of a bygone era, The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott is a lovely tribute to a beloved author.

4/5 stars

Title: The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott
Author: Kelly O'Connor McNees
Penguin Group
342 pages
genre: historical fiction


Kals said...

I've heard great things about the book and your review has made me even more excited to read it! :)

Joanne said...

Hello, Kals --I hope you enjoy it, and I'll be anxious to hear your thoughts on it, too.

Duchess said...

Oooh have you read "Invisible Louisa"? It's the story of Miss Alcott and it does touch on her romantic attachments. Very lovely read by Cornelia Meigs. :)

Joanne said...

Hello, Duchess, and welcome! Yes, Invisible Louisa is a YA novel that was in my classroom library when I was teaching! My girls enjoyed it.

Thanks for stopping by today!

Passages to the Past said...

oohhhh I REALLY want this book! I was actually named after the youngest daughter Amy - it's my mom's favorite book!

Thanks for such a great review ;-)

Joanne said...

Hi, Amy -- glad you stopped by for a visit. It's a very charming book and I hope you enjoy it; how wonderful that your mom chose a name for you from her favorite book! I did the same thing with my own daughter, and selected Jane as her middle name from my favorite, Jane Eyre. We bookish people think alike!

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