Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam
Pages: 352 pgs
Genre: Historical Fiction/U.S.
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge
Millions of readers have fallen in love with Little Women. But how could Louisa May Alcott-who never had a romance-write so convincingly of love and heart-break without experiencing it herself?
Deftly mixing fact and fiction, Kelly O'Connor McNees imagines a love affair that would threaten Louisa's writing career-and inspire the story of Jo and Laurie in Little Women. Stuck in small-town New Hampshire in 1855, Louisa finds herself torn between a love that takes her by surprise and her dream of independence as a writer in Boston. The choice she must make comes with a steep price that she will pay for the rest of her life.
Little Women is one of those cornerstone books in my collection. It was the first book that I ever read without it having to be “kid translated”. I will always have multiple copies and I read it at least once a year. That being said Louisa May Alcott is one of those authors that I look to as a celebrity of sorts. She was the ever-mysterious writer of “Greatest Book Ever Written”. And that alone made me curious about her.
I found McNees portrayal of Louisa May Alcott to be enlightening and engaging. She was exactly as I had imagined her. Brassy, intelligent and witty. Joseph Singer was an awesome fictional addition to Louisa’s story. It is difficult to think of your favorite authors having no romantic relationships when their books are so riddled with romance and happy endings. Joseph was the perfect complement to Louisa. He was strong, funny and just as witty as Louisa. I know that I would have attached myself to Joseph like a barnacle. It was so sad to know that it was doomed from the start. The one character (and I feel real person) who really got on my nerves was Bronson Alcott. I can understand having a philosophy and beliefs but to follow them at the expense of your family’s comfort and welfare is beyond my understanding.
The one thing that really struck me was the last chapter was when Louisa told Joseph that her publisher made her add a happy ending marriage for Jo with Professor Bhaer in order to please readers. I was completely aghast at this but then I realized that I am the exact same way. Would I have loved Little Women as much if there was no Professor Bhaer or Pride and Prejudice if Darcy had married someone to make his family happy? The answer is a resounding “NO”. I wonder what that says about me. It never really occurred to me to question the eternal happy ending. Maybe now I will.
I really loved this book. It reminded me a bit of Becoming Jane in a good way. Both are about female authors who wrote books about finding a great love while the author herself never found love in their own life.