The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O’Connor McNees

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.

About the author
Kelly O’Connor McNees (@komcnees) is a former editorial assistant and English teacher. She lives in Chicago. The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott is her first novel.

Other reviews
She Is Too Fond of Books
Devourer of Books
Sophisticated Dorkiness
Books, Movies & Chinese Food
Joyfully Retired
The 3 R’s Blog
Life in the Thumb
Literate Housewife
S. Krishna’s Books

Have you reviewed this book? Leave me a link and I’ll add it here.

I received this book from the publisher.


12 responses to “The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O’Connor McNees

  1. I felt the same way! I don’t know why I waited so long, but this was such a wonderfully satisfying read. Loved it!

  2. I really want to read this one – now even more so! Love your secription of the book.

  3. I’ve got to get to this one soon. It sounds fabulous!

  4. Thanks for linking to my review, Wordlily! Didn’t McNees wonderfully capture the spirit and philosophies of the Alcott family?!? I felt like I had stepped into their world when I was reading LOST SUMMER.

  5. I really liked this one too. It was great to see how much research the author did on Alcott and imagine what her life might have been like. Glad it worked for you as well.

  6. I agree – it was quite a warm and cozy book. A nice return to a Little Women feel, I thought. Glad you liked it!

  7. I like the way you referred to this book as a cozy quilt. It did feel like that. It’s one of my favorite books of the year. Thanks for the link.

  8. I really, really need to read this. I hope you don’t mind that I linked your review to the Amy Einhorn links page.

  9. Ohhh I really enjoyed this novel as well! Your cozy quilt description immediately made me put a reminder in my calendar to reread this novel in the bitter cold of February, as it does envelope the reader in a warm and fuzzy feeling of comfort.

    But I’m dying to know the scene of fictional history you thought was a stretch? I read this awhile ago so if you job my memory I hope to recall it..

  10. Pingback: Words from my reading « Word Lily

  11. Pingback: Words from my reading « Word Lily

  12. Pingback: The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott, by Kelly O’Connor McNees – Book Review | Linus's Blanket

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