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!