From Goodreads: 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.
I’m a little embarrassed to say I don’t know many of Louisa May Alcott’s works. I mean, I know and love Little Women. I don’t know how many times I’ve read it. And I know I read Little Men and Jo’s Boys buy beyond that my knowledge of LMA is nil. Maybe it was a good thing going into listening to this novel I had no preconceived ideas about her.
I’ve enjoyed this new concept of writing fictionalized stories involving real historical figures. Those of you who don’t like, I totally understand. All I can say is I have a great ability to suspend disbelief which helps a lot.
There were many things I looked up while listening to this because I wasn’t sure what was true and what was fantasy. I didn’t realize how many other authors and thinkers were contemporaries and acquaintances of the Alcotts-Ralph Waldo Emmerson and Henry David Thoreau to name a couple.
But that’s not really what this story is about. It is about a “what if”, I love a story about a “what if” and this “what if” is pretty good. What if Louise May Alcott and a love affair. One that couldn’t possibly work out in the end but one that influenced her life. This is a lovely little romance but with a fair amount of heartbreak. Even though I knew how it would have to turn out I couldn’t help but hope love would conquer all.
The Louisa McNees portrayed was one I would like to have met. She was strong and independent in a time when women were just starting to spread their wings. She did not have an easy life. The daughter of a father who used his philosophy to avoid supporting his family and a mother who seemed to sometimes put the needs of others above those of her families, Louise made the best of her difficult life. Let me tell you McNees seemed to be no fan of Bronson Alcott. I found myself getting so angry with his character.
This was a thoroughly enjoyable read and I look forward to what McNees does next. I believe it has been marketed as a Young Adult novel but I think everyone would get something out of it. Louisa is such a strong woman I really think she’s a great role model for our girls. The American Library Association has included The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott to it’s 2011 list of “well written and well illustrated books with significant feminist content” and I can see why-Louisa was a “you go girl” kind of girl and I’m glad I got to know her through this book.
A quick note about the audio version of this book. It was read by Emily Janice Card and she did a bang up job. While she didn’t do a lot of unique voices for each character her reading reminded me more of a bedtime story kind of reading and it really worked for this story. Also she wrote, directed and starred in The Jane Austen Fight Club and if you haven’t seen it click over and watch. It’s just about the funniest thing I’ve seen in a long time.