Monday, November 21, 2016

Book Review: The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O'Connor McNees

The author of this novel is an enormous Louisa May Alcott fan, and she long wondered how it was possible that Alcott never had any romantic interludes in her life of any kind. And while researching her, she discovered that there was one summer, when the family temporarily relocated to New Hampshire, when Alcott's journals (which she kept religiously) have disappeared. Why is there that gap? Sure, it could easily have been an accident or coincidence that somehow that one disappeared. Or it could indicate there was something in there that she wanted to hide.

So Ms. McNees has imagined a summer romance for Louisa. In this small town they quickly become known for Bronson's fame has followed them (although they hope the infamy of his many unpaid debts have not.) Louisa's oldest and youngest sisters quickly make friends and Louisa comes up with the idea for them to stage a play, as there isn't much going on in the town. Joseph, the young man who works in his father's general store, seems to be interested in Louisa. She is determined, however, to move to Boston to write, once she's saved up enough money. But will she reconsider, given Joseph's feelings?

I know what really happens in Louisa's life, so the outcome was never truly up in the air, but at the same time Ms. McNees truly added just the right amount of suspense and true feeling to make me pause and wonder if maybe she would make a different decision in the novel. That's always a sign of a masterful writer, when the conclusion is foregone, and yet you still root for something different to happen. Any fan of Alcott's will enjoy this novel. And if you haven't read Alcott's other books, I remember loving Jack and Jill and Under the Lilacs when I was about 11.

I got this ARC for free from the publisher.

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