The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott
By Kelly O’Connor McNees
Amy Einhorn Books
There is nothing that Louisa May Alcott wants more than independence and the opportunity to prove herself as a writer. She yearns for a small room all her own and stacks of paper waiting to be covered with ink. What she gets is a rundown house, housework, a father who is blind to the basic needs of his family, a depressed mother, and resentment. She chafes against societal conventions — marriage, love, and the idea of a woman’s place. When she finds herself feeling emotions for a man, she struggles to balance those feelings with her dreams and wonders if it would actually be possible to have both.
The character of Louisa May Alcott was all I expected her to be in this book. She’s strong-willed, fitful, passionate, witty, and observant. She sees the sham of a marriage her parents are engaged in and refuses to let herself fall into that same trap. She wants, and craves, freedom above all and stays true to her dreams. Which can be infuriating to read sometimes since she does preach and selfishly believe that what she wants is right and that no one can, or will, stop her from having what she wants in the end. She gets what she wants, but she does pay a price for it.
Her father is uncaring and generally stupid to his own family’s needs. When I say needs, I don’t mean in terms of frivolous things such as ribbons for adornment — it’s food, clothing, and shelter that he seems to think will just fall out of the sky. He has put their lives in danger and at one time even suggested an open marriage and divorce using some flimsy transcendentalist thought that made no sense to anyone but him. He’s infuriating and in many ways I wanted his family to leave him yet they persist in caring for him throughout their lives.
Little Women is one of my favorite books. I’ve been wanting to re-read it for some time now and thanks to this book I think I will be doing that very soon. McNees is a good writer and I hope to read more of her books in the future. She did a great job here and while I know that the imagined life of an author can be a difficult thing to write, I think she did a stand up job. She brought to life a person, and a family, with grace, good humor, and some great writing.
I received this book through the Early Reviewer program on LibraryThing.