Who has not read and adored Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women? Since its publication in 1868, there has been much speculation as to how much of the novel is based on Alcott’s life, and how much is pure fiction. The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott, the first novel by Kelly O’Connor McNees, is an attempt to fill in the blanks of Alcott’s life, and to give her a romance which probably never happened.
In 1855 the Alcott family, once again in dire financial straits, accepts the generous offer a relative and moves into an empty house in Walpole, New Hampshire. The Alcott daughters become friendly with other young people in the town. Louisa falls in love with Joseph Singer, the son of a local dry-goods merchant. Louisa feels that she is meant to be a writer, and she has no way to realize that dream and remain involved with Joseph. When Joseph’s engagement to a local girl is announced, Louisa realizes that she must begin to lead the independent life she has long desired.
Louisa’s older sister, Anna, also falls in love with a local young man. Her dream of a happily married life with him ends abruptly, and she leaves Walpole for a teaching position in Syracuse. As in Little Women, younger sister Lizzie (Beth in the novel) struggles with ill health while May (aka Amy, the youngest) is pretty, spoiled, and lazy.
Once again, I have to give thanks to the LibraryThing Early Reviewer program, which sent me this book. I really enjoyed it, although now I am a bit tired of the literary device of imagining the private life of famous authors. Are all the new ideas taken?
Published in hardcover-Penguin Group-2010