Friday, August 13, 2010

Review-The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott

Kelly O'Connor McNees
Amy Einhorn Books
G.P.Putnam's Sons-Penguin Group, USA
352 pages

I don't know why it took so long to review this book. I loved it. I read about Louisa May Alcott when I was a teenager and her story was one of wonder then. Kelly O'Connor McNees, shares my passion for the writer and admits that after reading Martha Saxton's Louisa May Alcott: A Modern Biography she became even more obsessed. I can't remember the biography that I read as a child. It was one of those biography series for young adults. I know my mom used to treat me to new books often and Alcott was among them.

I have read Little Women twice and have seen two versions of the movie. So, I was worried about reading a fictional story about the author. I quickly realized that my worries were for naught as The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott was a treasure. If anything it just enhanced my desire to revisit her biography as I noted the Saxton version on my wishlist.

McNees invents a story of the years when Louisa May Alcott lived in Walpole, New Hampshire during 1855. When she discovered that there were gaps in the historical information available during the summer of that year, her story began to materialize.
McNees shapes a character of Louisa May Alcott that feels genuine and at times you need to remind yourself that it is a historical fiction version. The life Alcott chooses to lead and the decisions she makes are believable because her personality is not compromised in this fictional story. Biographies depict her strength and views on women's roles and marriage which are played out in McNees' novel. Through the author's research she inserts familiar historical events to create a realistic setting for her story. The Fugitive Slave Act and the Anthony Burns trial, Women's Rights, Walt Whitman's publication of The Leaves of Grass, Nathanial Hawthorne's presence as a neighbor, all enhance the plausibility of the story. While her mother shows her support for Louisa's dreams, her father is disappointed. Louisa is driven to make money to survive as a single woman, making her own way.

If you love Little Women, and have a curiosity about Louisa May Alcott, please read a biography of her life. Once you have done that, treat yourself to Kelly O’Connor NcNees’ historical fiction story that honors her memory with warmth and imagination.

Disclosure: Sent to me by the publisher.

© [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner], [2010].


Blodeuedd said...

I have seen some good reviews on this one, and now you're tempting me to read it :)

Ladytink_534 said...

I know she's done other things besides my one of my favorite books of all time Little Women but I've never read anything besides the books with those characters. I think I'd probably like this one.

bermudaonion said...

I'm really anxious to read this book because I love Louisa May Alcott! I'm so glad to see you loved it.

Ti said...

I typically like weightier reads but I was surprised how much I liked this one. It was pleasant to read and made me want to finish Little Women. Yep, I only read half of it.

wisteria said...

Blodeuedd- It's a fun read and historically responsible.

LadyTink 534..I haven't heard many reviews that are negative.

Bermuda..I know I love LMA also. She just always had direction and knew what she wanted. I admire that.

Ti..Well Little Women is definitely a denser read. I did read it last year for a American History grad course.

Literary Feline said...

I haven't read anything by Louisa May Alcott, I confess (nor have I ever really been tempted to). The life of the author, however, does interest me and this sounds like a great way to get to know the author, even if through fiction.

Aisle B said...

I've seen this one at the bookstores and have been curious about it. Your review made me want to get it especially since it falls in the historical fiction.

Great review and very thorough insight into The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott.

wisteria said...

Literary Feline-I think you would like this one a lot. Do you want my copy? I'll send it to you.

wisteria said...

Aisle B--I'm glad it made you curious. It's such a fun book to read and interesting. I love woman like her...unconventional.