The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcot

Friday, April 16, 2010

Oh, I loved this book so much!! In The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott, Kelly O'Connor McNees tells the story of the author of Little Women. The main thing I knew about Louisa May Alcott prior to reading this book was that she wrote Little Women and that she never married. Now, I honestly don't know that I've ever read all the way through Little Women... I know I read the Great Illustrated Classics version for children when I was young, and later I read maybe half of the actual version but just never finished it for whatever reason. But I still remembered most of the main points.

In the author's note at the end, McNees explains where she gleaned all her information from regarding Ms. Alcott. She appears to have thoroughly researched her life, including reading actual letters by her, and effectively incorporated the learned facts into a fictional accounting of Ms. Alcott's life. The title of this novel is also explained in the author's note, and I found the story behind it so intriguing! Basically what I'm saying, read the author's note when you're done... it adds a lot to the experience of this book and answered some of the questions I had.

It was so interesting to read about Louisa's life because there were, of course, may similarities to the characters in Little Women. Ms. Alcott was one of four children. She had a unique personality at the time in that she was very independent and wanted nothing more than to write even at the cost of her other desires. I found the character of Louisa easy to relate to. I related to her desire to always read and write. I related to her ambitions for autonomy. While I have always wanted to marry and have children, I can relate to her independence and the conflicts she feels in pursuing this as opposed to maintaining loyalties to her family. But the biggest conflict, one which Kelly O'Connor McNees imagines may have taken place, is the love affair Louisa experiences during that lost summer. Readers and scholars have questioned how Louisa May Alcott was able to write a book that encompasses so much love and relationship issues since she had never been married. And they've wondered who are these characters in Little Women based upon... specifically Laurie? In McNees's historically accurate, fictional accounting, Louisa did experience love. But you'll have to read this book to find out what happens and if Laurie is a representation of anyone or not.

Kelly O'Connor McNees did a fantastic job in putting this book together. And her writing ability is also not indicative of the debut novelist she is! This book definitely made me want to pull Little Women off the shelf for another read and also all the related books like March etc. AND I found myself wanting to read more of Walt Whitman's poetry (though poetry rarely interests me) because of the place his book, Leaves of Grass, has in Louisa's life. This was a love story in many ways that will be enjoyed by fans of Little Women, of historical fiction, of empowered women, or anyone who wants to read a good story.

Here is the trailer for the book... it's hilarious!! You have to watch it!

12 comments:

hip chick said...

I have read a very interesting biography of LMA and this book sounds like one I would be interested in as well. I think I have a clue as to her her lost love may have been but I will not spoil it here for those who want to learn more by reading the book.

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Nice review! :)

Kals said...

Love the review! :) I've heard great things about this book and being an Alcott fan, I'm so eager to read it!

Jeanne C. said...

I LOVE the cover of this book!

Zibilee said...

I just loved this one as well and participated in an author chat with Kelly a few days ago. She was wonderful and kind, and took a lot of time and care to answer everyone's questions about the book and her life. Great book, great author!

Meg said...

So glad you enjoyed this one! I have it on the shelf and can't wait to get to it.

I have to confess that I've never finished Little Women... though I have read Geraldine Brooks' March, which was fantastic, and my interest was totally piqued!

Trisha said...

It's so wonderful to see people get excited about biographies; I rarely read them, but every now and again I fool myself into thinking I will and it's great to have reviews like this, so I know which ones to read.

Creations by Laurel-Rain Snow said...

I've been wanting to read this one, as well as the one called The Woman Behind Little Women.

I read a lot of Alcott's books as a kid, from Little Women to the sequels, as well as the stand-alone books.

Your review made me want this one all the more!

I tried to watch the trailer, but it kept cutting out on me. I don't know what that's about, but I'll try again later.

Booksnyc said...

I loved this book too! It definitely brought back all the warm memories of LW from my childhood.

Booksnyc said...

I loved this book too! It definitely brought back all the warm memories of LW from my childhood.

nomadreader said...

I loved this book too! It was my first time seeing the trailer, so thanks! I really enjoyed the author's note too; it's a true sign of literary geekiness when the author's note and notes on sources are as fascinating as the subject of the book itself.

April (BooksandWine) said...

I kind of wish I had responded to the offer of this book for review. Ah well, I'll have to buy it when it comes out.

Sounds like Alcott led a fascinating life.

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