The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O’Connor McNees (Amy Einhorn, an imprint of Penguin; April 1, 2010), 352 pages
Readers have long wondered about what author Louisa May Alcott of Little Women fame based some of the stories in her books on, particularly Jo’s romantic storyline, since Jo is based on Alcott herself. In The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott, Kelly O’Connor McNees mixes well-researched biographical facts with imagination and unwraps that mystery.
I don’t know why I put off reading this for so long! This book, this story, was a cozy quilt I loved wrapping myself up in, a revisiting in a new way of an old favorite. I loved reading Alcott’s books as a child, and the Alcott biography Invincible Louisa by Cornelia Meigs was one of the few biographies I ever enjoyed.
The book is set in 1855, the same year Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass was released, and McNees’s interweaving of this into her story left me with a new appreciation of (and interest in) Whitman’s work.
While I was reading this book, I also read several quotes from C.S. Lewis and George MacDonald on love and marriage at The Rabbit Room. The distinctions drawn there are an apt sidebar to McNees’s story.
One scene of the fictional history (if you’ve read the book, I bet you can guess which one) seemed like a bit of a stretch for me, but that’s it.
I really enjoyed basically everything about this book. I look forward to seeing what McNees writes next.
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I received this book from the publisher.