Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Julie's Review: The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott

Summary: McNees lightly imagines the life of Louisa May Alcott, whose Little Women has enjoyed generations-long success. The story begins with a 20-year-old Louisa unhappily moving with her family from Boston to Walpole, N.H., where her Transcendentalist philosopher father pursues a life sans material pleasure. Louisa, meanwhile, plans on saving enough money to return to Boston and pursue a career as a writer. Then she meets the handsome and charming Joseph Singer, who stirs up strong emotions in Louisa. Not wanting to admit that she is attracted to him, Louisa responds to Joseph with defensiveness and anger until, of course, she can no longer deny her feelings and becomes torn between her desires and her dreams. While certainly charming, the simply told, straightforward narrative reads like YA fiction. It'll do the trick as a pleasant diversion for readers with fond memories of Alcott's work, but the lack of gravity prevents it from becoming anything greater.

Review: I had been hearing some buzz about this debut novel in the blogosphere for awhile but then I had the joy of hearing Ms. O'Connor McNees read from the book. I bought it immediately after hearing her read and I'm so glad I did.

The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott is a wonderful back-story to an iconic American Author. I read Little Women a couple years ago and definitely found myself wondering if Jo and Laurie were autobiographical.

Author Kelly O'Connor McNees does a fantastic job of bringing the Alcott family to life and how people lived in the late 1800s. Let me tell you, those women had hard lives and were strong, mentally and physically. There was only one person that I truly didn't like and that was Bronson Alcott. What a selfish and insufferable man! Since the man was head of the household it was his job to ensure that his family was provided for to the best of his capabilities and well the only thing he did was sit behind his desk and "think".

The book focuses on the summer that the Alcott's lived in Walpole, NH before Louisa left to go live her life as a writer. It's also the summer that Louisa fell in love with a young man, Joseph Singer. The minute they meet you know this is the relationship that transforms her, that makes her a young woman and makes her understand love and the subsequent heartbreak.

There are many points in the book when the story made me cry and made me laugh. I found Louisa and Anna totally relate-able.

I love how Ms. O'Connor McNees ended the book. She had focused on that specific summer but ended the book years later as Louisa was nearing the end of her life. The story comes full circle and to a bittersweet ending.

If you are looking for a fantastic historical fiction book about a wonderful author, then you need to run out and buy The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott.

I look forward to whatever Kelly O'Connor McNees writes in the future. I also fear that her interest in Louisa May Alcott has rubbed off a bit on me. Just more books to add to the ever growing TBR pile.

Final Take: 5/5


3 comments : September 27, 2010 at 2:57 PM  

Also, I think the cover is gorgeous, no?

Julie September 27, 2010 at 4:39 PM  

Yes! I love the cover and the paper with the beveled edges. Pretty much nothing I didn't love. :)

Sheila (Bookjourney) September 28, 2010 at 10:12 PM  

I have wanted to read this since early summer and still havent even picked it up. I need to do this!

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