The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott

The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott

by Kelly O'Connor McNees

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Overview

A richly imagined, remarkably written story of the woman who created Little Women- and how love changed her in ways she never expected.

Deftly mixing fact and fiction, Kelly O'Connor McNees returns to the summer of 1855, when vivacious Louisa May Alcott is twenty-two and bursting to free herself from family and societal constraints and do what she loves most. Stuck in small-town New Hampshire, she meets Joseph Singer, and as she opens her heart, 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780425240830
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/03/2011
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 511,002
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Kelly O'Connor McNees is an editor and the critically acclaimed author of The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott and In Need of a Good Wife. She lives in Chicago with her husband and daughter.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"McNees gets the period details just right: the crinolines and carriages; the spare, aesthetic plainness of 19th-century New England. And although the love affair with Joseph is invented, she remains faithful to the broad outlines of Alcott's biography. In fact, The Lost Summer is the kind of romantic tale to which Alcott herself was partial, one in which love is important but not a solution to life's difficulties. Devotees of Little Women will flock to this story with pleasure." -The Washington Post

"I have read Little Women at least a dozen times, but Kelly O'Connor McNees has given me a gift I will not soon forget. Louisa May Alcott is no longer simply an icon to me but a real woman in all her complexity, one who lived life in spite of exploitation and the expectations of her day, never giving up on her dream. Her story is as relevant today as when Alcott bravely made her way. I can't wait to give copies of this novel to all of my friends."
-Cassandra King, author of The Sunday Wife and The Same Sweet Girls

"Mixing fact drawn from Little Women author Louisa May Alcott's letters and journals with a longing to understand how Alcott-who is thought never to have been in love-could have written so movingly about it, Kelly O'Connor McNees delivers a wonderfully imagined, lively novel of first love herself. Louisa emerges as a spunky, honest heroine torn between her own personal love affair and the need to create more enduring stories that might console readers and lovers for generations to come."
-Meg Waite Clayton, author of The Wednesday Sisters

"A superb, thoughtful, and deliciously paced book that will hook lovers of history and Alcott alike. I enjoyed it tremendously."
-Terry Gamble, author of The Water Dancers and Good Family

"Richly imagined and gracefully told, McNees' captivating story will delight anyone who loved Alcott's feisty heroine Jo March."
-Judith Ryan Hendricks, best-selling author of Bread Alone

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The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 63 reviews.
retromom More than 1 year ago
In The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott, we are introduced to a 22 year old Louisa, who is moving to Walpole, New Hampshire with her family due to financial difficulties. While there Louisa struggles with the desire to be a writer and duty to her family. Love and marriage are not options she is willing to consider. She would like nothing more than to go to Boston, live alone and be a writer. Then she meets Joseph Singer. Louisa finds herself smitten and confused. Is there room for love, family and writing? Kelly O'Connor McNees captures the essence of the Alcott family beautifully. I felt that the way the family was depicted was in line with things I have read or seen about the Alcott family. Louisa was just a I had imagined her to be and reminded me of Jo in Little Women. I enjoyed this book immensely! I can't recommend it enough. Just like when I read Little Women as a young girl, I didn't want this story to end! I'm looking forward to seeing what Kelly O'Connor McNees writes next.
TheCrowdedLeaf More than 1 year ago
In the summer of 1855 the real-life Alcott family moved to Walpole, New Hampshire. Little historical information is available regarding this time in the lives of the Alcott's, specifically regarding Louisa May Alcott herself. Which is why Kelly O'Connor McNees chose this time period to write an imagined piece of historical fiction about the unwed author, The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott. Kelly O'Connor McNees spent a significant amount of time researching Louisa May Alcott's life before embarking on the journey that is novel-writing. She paints Louisa as a head-strong, wildly independent dreamer and writer trapped in the travails of family duty and propriety. Having declared herself destined to be a writer alone, unencumbered by domestic obligation, Louisa dreams of the day when she can move to Boston to find residence in its stately brownstones, and spend her days writing and dreaming of being published. Into this story enters Joseph Springer, an imagined love interest on which the real Louisa May Alcott could have based Little Women's Laurie. As with many classic love stories written in the nineteenth century, The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott broaches contemporary topics of sickness and poverty, while placing two people in love into an impossible situation. Boy meets girl; boy and girl fall in love; but boy and girl cannot be together due to money/family/health/distance/time. Boy and girl must choose between duty and a dream, between love for each other and love for their families or passions. O'Connor McNees manages to evoke the romantic emotions of period literature, without getting mired in historical language. My only complaint is her use of foreshadowing to warn us of impending tragedy or drama. Having a close-third-person narrator step out of the present to warn us of the future interrupts the flow of the story, and is an oft-used tool of a novice writer. I think O'Connor McNees is better than that, and I hope the three parts I am thinking of are removed from the final publication. The impact of a dramatic moment is lessened when the reader is warned it's about to occur. Having said that, The Lost Summer of L.M.A. fills the reader's needs for a love story, a catharsis for romantics, whether the lovers end up together or not. This is the first kind of period spin-off that I've read from the rash of them which have surfaced in recent years. I've been hesitant to try one since I've been afraid they'll never live up to the classics they're based on. I was pleasantly pleased with Kelly O'Connor McNees' debut novel; it is a breezy, gentle read, perfect for this warmer weather. Enjoyable as a stand-alone novel, not trying to be Little Women, but for an homage to the life of an author who lived her dreams, no matter the cost. 4 stars (I received this book from the publisher for review)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kelly McNees has produced a well-written and charming fictional answer to the question that many readers of Alcott's Little Women have posed as they turned the last page --"Why Louisa--why not write the fairytale ending with the boy next door?" Set in pre-Civil War New England McNees imagines just what events and aspirations may have made a young Louisa May Alcott pick a non-traditional role and turn into the writer and adult she became. McNees' well researched story brings to life the real Little Women --Louisa and her sisters in a lost summer. Descriptions of the Alcott's village social life, household demands, their impoverishment and Louisa's struggles to follow a writing career allow the reader to be immersed in this lovely and lovingly written bittersweet story. The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott is an old-fashioned romance that makes the reader ponder modern day questions. Discussions of Marmee's role, Bronson's avoidance of family responsibilities to follow his Transcendental beliefs, and Louisa's career choices would make great topics for book clubs.
Ogdred_Weary More than 1 year ago
"The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott" is well written and expertly paced: a lovely book from beginning to end. Fans of historical fiction will be thrilled with the exquisite details that pop up throughout this debut novel, and followers of Louisa May Alcott will feel as if they are discovering a new side to an old, dear friend. Anyone who loves a good story will find that they simply can't put this book down.
TiBookChatter More than 1 year ago
In 1855, the Alcott family moved to Walpole, New Hampshire. Not much is known about the real-life Alcotts but McNees chooses this time period to tell the tale of young Louisa. Strong-willed and stubborn, she has a strong sense of family and an even stronger sense of pride. Determined to be a serious writer, she has no time for romance but when she meets Joseph Singer, she can't quite explain the feelings that she has for him. Is it possible for a woman to have a career and a relationship without losing her sense of self? I feel that it's important to note that I have not read Little Women in its entirety. I started it ages ago and loved every bit of it, but then got sidetracked and never picked it up again. If my memory serves me, I got through about half of it, but it was enough for me to fall in love with the characters. I felt the same way about The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott. Although parts of it do include a bit of historical fact, it is a fictional tale of the family that inspired Little Women and I feel that it had the same feel as the classic that we've all come to love. I know there are some hardcore fans of Little Women who'll dig deep to find fault with this book, but there's really no need for it. As I was reading, I could tell that McNees adores the classic as much as the next reader (if not more) and the care she takes to breathe life into Louisa is genuine and well thought out. I adored Louisa and all of her sisters and although her parents proved to be frustrating at times, especially her father, I could literally see them upon the page. The other part that I enjoyed quite a bit were all the literary references. I could easily see Louisa sitting in her room, reading Dickens. This is the type of book that book lovers love. It reads well, it includes characters that we already love, and it makes the classic even more appealing. I do not feel that you need to read Little Women prior to reading TLSOLMA, but after reading this book, I now feel that I must finish Little Women.
nyauthoress More than 1 year ago
Kelly O'Connor McNees will garner great praise for her book describing the life of Louisa May Alcott. The hypothetical affair in the life of a mysterious and well-loved author is intriguing and well-drawn. I was impressed with the research done and the style of writing similar to Alcott's own. LMA's self-absorbed philosophical father infuriated me, but we all love to be angry with a character. The relationships between the sisters I found particularly touching. As in Little Women, the putting on of plays was an important part of their discovery of themselves and the world. The outward appearance of a book does matter, and in this case, deserves recognition. Not only is the cover beautiful and intriguing with the image of an old worn book, but the pages are thick and luxurious on the fingertips. I felt like I was back in the 19th century reading Alcott's new novel.
Mother-Daughter-Book-Club More than 1 year ago
Louisa May Alcott is one of the most beloved literary figures in American history. Her book Little Women, has never been out of circulation, and it's been adapted for the screen and stage many times. As Little Women is widely known to be somewhat autobiographical, it's easy for readers to feel they know Louisa May as well as they know Jo, her fictional counterpart. I would expect this familiarity would make writing a novel about Louisa and her real family daunting, especially for first-time novelists. But I'm glad that author Kelly O'Connor McNees took up that challenge when creating The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott. The book is full of enough facts about Louisa's real life to make her situation come alive for readers, but those facts are woven into the story well enough that they remain interesting instead of becoming a boring list forced into a story line. We see Louisa as a real women influenced by her own upbringing to reject romance and marriage for herself. We see the struggles she faced when deciding between accepting the reality of love freely offered to her and pursuing her dream of being a writer. Married women in Louisa's time were mostly relegated to a life of drudgery and endless chores. Few had the option of pursuing anything other than domestic pursuits. Even those who by necessity worked, usually earned their money through sewing or teaching or cleaning. Louisa's father plays a prominent role in the book, as he did in her life. His unwillingness to earn money affected the whole household, making the family dependent upon friends and relatives for their support. It's no wonder that Louisa developed a fierce drive to make money from her writing so she would not be forced into the same situation during her adult life. Since we all know the real Louisa May Alcott never married, it's no surprise how her romance in this book will end. But McNees weaves her words so well that you want to keep turning pages anyway, hoping against hope that the outcome will be different than you know it to be. The resolution, when it comes, feels true to Louisa, and satisfying to the reader as well. Mother-daughter book club members who read The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott will have a lot to discuss including the writer herself, constraints on women of her time and family relationships. Also interesting to discuss will be how men of the times were just as constrained in many ways by the expectations of society. I highly recommend it for mother-daughter book clubs with girls aged 15 and up.
bookchickdi More than 1 year ago
Most women can recall with fondness reading Louisa May Alcott's Little Women when we were girls. I can still see the cover of my book: chocolate brown, with a color illustration of the March girls. Little Women was one of the first books I can remember reading that gave me a sense that female relationships were important, and that is was OK to be whomever you were. Kelly O'Connor NcNees has taken the life of Louisa May Alcott and reimagined a pivotal period of her life in this historical novel The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott. All of the sisters are there, and McNees is clearly inspired by the style of Alcott, as in this passage describing sister Anna. Anna practiced compassion like an art form. She knew how to apply it with a delicate hand, knew its gradations and nuances, could distinguish its authentic form from imposters like sympathy and voyeurism. It came naturally to her, almost like a physical impulse. The writing here is exquisite. The summer recounted in this novel is the one in which Louisa meets and falls in love with Joseph, a young shopkeeper. While I enjoyed the story of the Alcott family, I felt that the book really captured me when Joseph and Louisa's love started to bloom. This is ironic, given that when I was a young girl, I liked the March sisters' story much more than the romantic Jo/Laurie storyline. Maybe it is a factor of age? It is interesting comparing the fiction of Little Women, which was based on Alcott's own family, with the historical fiction of the Alcott family in Lost Summer. McNees did a lot of research, read many biographies of Alcott, and I enjoyed how she weaved biographical information, historical information (such as the publication of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass) with her fiction of Alcott's life. During a recent online chat with the author, much discussion arose about the father figure in the story. Louisa's father Bronson was a philosopher, and working for living to provide for his family was not something he was inclined to do. He believed that working for pay violated his conscience. He seemed to leave it to his wife and daughters to provide physically for the family so that he could live according to his beliefs. Some bloggers felt that he was shirking his responsibilities, yet he was willing to live off the efforts of his wife and daughters. Others felt that he was living up to ideals. I fell into the camp that he was irresponsible, and it was hard to respect him. How can an able-bodied man sit in his study and read while his wife and children do the hard labor? Louisa questioned this as well. If you have teen girls in your family, Little Women and The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott would make a great gift for them. Reading Lost Summer sent me to my Kindle to download a free copy of Little Women and remembering the summer I spent reading it on my porch. This is another Amy Einhorn book, and again she has found another wonderful voice in McNees. I give it four stars. Thanks to Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin? (www.heylady.net)/ TLC Blog Tours for providing a copy of the book for review.
ethel55 More than 1 year ago
In summer 1855, the Alcotts are on the move again, this time to Walpole, NH, where an uncle has kindly given them use of his empty house. It's tough to separate oneself from the story of Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy--many of the events that we have come to know from Little Women make small appearances here and there in this story. I was really interested in McNees' take on Bronson Alcott, the trancendentalist. His views on life and what one truly needed for sustenance didn't always mesh with what a family with four children would need. I really enjoyed spending a summer with Anna, Louisa, Lizzie and young May. McNees has writtten a really nice piece of historical fiction.
mt256 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I spent a lot of time in my pre-teen years in love with the writing of Louisa May Alcott. Little Women was and still is a favorite of mine. I wanted to be one of the March girls. In The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott, Kelly O' Conner McNees visits the 'what if ' possibilities of Louisa May Alcott's life. What if Louisa fell in love with a man. Would she be willing to give up everything she dreams about? Can she live by her pen alone? These questions are what lured me into this novel. This book takes place in 1855, Louisa and her family move to New Hampshire. Louisa's father, Bronson is a well known transcendentalist. He didn't manage money very well so the Alcott's lived a life of poverty. Louisa is desperate to find her own wings and fly to freedom. She longs to be able to pursue her dreams of becoming a famous writer. She doesn't want anything or anyone holding her back. That is until she meets Joseph Singer. Joseph is a small town boy who is handsome, kind and charming. He's quite a catch and he has his sights set on Louisa. Will she be able to refuse him?I really enjoyed this story from beginning to end. Kelly O'Conner McNees took care to add factual details to this wonderful story. I really liked the way McNees portrayed Louisa's struggles. She was going against the grain of society at this time and it was not easy. She had dreams other than being a wife and a mother. Then she finds someone who understands her, someone whom she can be herself with. Joseph Singer challenges Louisa in ways she didn't expect. He opens up her mind and heart to experiences she never dreamed of. This is a deeply romantic story that I fell in love with. My heart broke with Louisa's as she was forced to make decisions that would change the course of her future. Overall this was a great book. This book is fiction, but I would recommend it for fans of Louisa May Alcott. It made me think of Little Women over and over again. I wonder how her life and the fictional life of Jo March paralleled. I though Kelly O'Conner McNees did a fantastic job of giving Louisa May Alcott's life a little romance. Well done.
akreese on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott is a great introductory read for anyone who likes Little Women and wants to know more about Louisa May Alcott via a novel. Although it is fiction, this book contains a lot of good biographical information about Louisa May Alcott; hitting the highlights of her life.The fictitious elements of the story deal with a romance between Louisa May Alcott and a young man she meets one summer. Although there is no record of her having such an affair, in real life there was mention of a young European man with whom she might have had a relationship. The book plays a bit with this theme, and the European man gets a mention before the end of the book. It's hard for anyone to know if she really had any other relationships since she burned letters and diary pages that she didn't want anyone to read. I really don't blame her for that either - it must have been difficult knowing that everything she had written would be picked over once she died.The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott is a fun speculation on what might have been for Louisa. I found the first half of the book to be a bit slow-moving, and I think that is probably because I had recently read an in-depth biography of Louisa May Alcott, so everything I read in this book was a simplified version of the biography. Since I already knew a lot of the details from reading the biography there weren't a whole lot of surprises.If you haven't read an in-depth biography of Louisa May Alcott then I think chances are that you will very much enjoy this book as an introduction to her life. Even if you do know a lot about her life the story is still an enjoyable one.
LiterateHousewife on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Earlier this year, Trish from Hey Lady Whatcha Readin'? held an online book club for The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O'Connor McNees. I was one of the lucky people chosen to participate and I was very excited. I have loved Louisa May Alcott for just about as long as I can remember. The only author who has been close to my heart longer is Laura Ingalls Wilder. When Trish posted about the book club I realized that I knew very little about Louisa herself other than that Little Women was somewhat autobiographical. I've never even picked up a biography. When the ARC arrived, I finished up my current read as soon as I could so that I could get started. I was not disappointed. The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott painted an interesting and human portrait of the entire Alcott family, most specifically Louisa and her parents.There were times when I was furious with Mr. Alcott for being so selfish in clinging to his principles instead of caring financially and emotionally for the family he chose to have. Counterbalanced with him was Louisa's mother. She, too, had made choices and her love for her husband came at a high price. Still, I don't believe she would have had it any other way. While there may have not been much physical comfort to her because of the way her husband wanted to live, it was apparent that she found moral and spiritual comfort in their life and valued that more highly. Likewise, Louisa wouldn't have been the woman she was had her family setting not been as it was. While her life was by no means horrible, her art is a testament to the fact that where there are trials, deeper beauty and meaning can be found.My Final ThoughtsI would highly recommend this book to anyone who has loved Little Women or who has always wanted to read it. Who says that a spinster's life is necessarily boring?
bachaney on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott" follows Alcott and her family as they move to Walpool, New Hampshire in the summer of 1855. Louisa arrives in Walpool ready to leave her family and head to Boston to continue her writing career at the first opportunity. But soon she finds herself intangled with a local boy, Joseph Singer, who she finds understands her better than any other man she's ever met. Louisa ultimately must choose between Joseph and her dreams of freedom, but she won't reach a decision without a few bumps along the way. This book is an absolute must read for fans of "Little Women" and Louisa May Alcott. Kelly O'Connor McNees does a wonderful job of imagining Alcott's world, her family, and the firey life and dreams of a young woman who would go on to create some of the most beloved literary characters of all time. Although you can see pieces of Jo March in the character of Louisa, there are key differences that make the story interesting and keep the reader engaged. I enjoyed revisiting my earlier readings of "Little Women" through this piece of imagined history.
bdinan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I find the goings-on amongst the Transcendentalists much more interesting than Alcott's prose in Little Women. I can certainly sympathize with Louisa May Alcott's difficulty in finding her literary voice when she had to overcome a dysfunctional, self-absorbed father and limited opportunities for women. (On the plus side, she had Emerson, Thoreau, & the Boston elite to facilitate her career.) Alcott, like Dickens, was writing to earn a living, rather than for artistic self-expression. I think that's one reason she set Little Women during the Civil War and banished her problematic father to the battle lines for most of the book. (In reality, Louisa was 30 years old when she served as a nurse in the Civil War.) Another historical fiction account of the Alcott's is the excellent "March" by Geraldine Brooks, which primarily tells the story from of "Mr. March's" service during the Civil War and includes some of the factual events from Bronson Alcott's life along with the imagined events.
dsafire on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mediocre at best, sorry to say. Not terribly gripping, but not bad enough to chuck into the river.
bbellthom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott was an easy read that takes the reader to a summer in the 1800¿s in the life of Louisa May Alcott. Although not based on actual fact the book did give the reader insight into the life of Louisa May Alcott and her family. The Alcott girl¿s were very poor throughout their lives but there was a sense that they enjoyed each day together. Reading this book made me want to re-read Miss Alcott¿s books. I would recommend this book to people looking for a fun lighthearted novel about one of America¿s great authors.
bookworm12 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book explores the fictional romantic life of Louisa May Alcott, the author of Little Women. I¿ve read a few books in this vein and some are better than others. We, as readers, tend to be fascinated with the private lives of authors, especially when they¿re shrouded in mystery. This book has a bad case of Darcyitis in my opinion. What, you¿re a strong-willed female who¿s met a man who is insufferable? How awful! Hark, he¿s not what he seemed at first and you might be falling for him? Totally unexpected!Let me be clear, I didn¿t dislike this book; I actually enjoyed most of it. I think my main problem with it was that I felt like I¿ve read many similar books. I also grew up loving Little Women and this didn¿t add to that love, it kind of detracted from it. I loved Louisa¿s strong will in the book, but not her stubborn pride and rude attitude. She refuses to listen when someone wants to explain themselves, she¿s sometimes a real jerk to her sisters, and she thinks she¿s better than everyone else because she¿s a writer. ****SPOILERS****We¿re supposed to be invested in the love story, but to me it made Louisa appear wishy-washy, which contradicted her otherwise strong personality. She wanted the man, but then she didn¿t, but then she did, but not if that meant she had to marry him and give up her freedom. It¿s hard to care about the relationship when it wasn¿t her priority. I don¿t think it¿s bad, AT ALL, that it wasn¿t her priority, I just didn¿t want to read about the romance part. I get that man or writing is a hard decision, but I¿d rather read about her time as a single woman writing in Boston and making a name for herself. Also, I could be mistaken, but I couldn¿t find a single thing online that indicates Louisa¿s older sister Anna had a beau that died, only that she met and married someone, just like Meg did in Little Women. If that¿s the case, then it seems McNees just took Jane Austen¿s sister¿s story, killing off the author¿s sister¿s man before they have a chance to marry. ****SPOILERS OVER****In the end, I think I would have enjoyed this more if it was a historical fiction book that had nothing to do with Alcott. Actually I would have enjoyed reading a real biography of the author more than anything. I think her life was fascinating, but I didn¿t like having to guess what was fact and what was fiction. I will say that this has made me re-read Little Women, but I can¿t connect the Louisa in this with the one who wrote that sweet story. ¿Anticipation bent her like an archer¿s bow.¿
amanderson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this one. I'd give it 4 1/2 stars really. McNees mixes historical fact with fiction and comes up with a winning story about Louisa May Alcott as a young woman, set just prior to the Civil War. It would make a great book club choice, as there are many possible discussion points - women's rights, the roles of men and women in marriage, child rearing philosophies, slavery, transcendentalism, etc. And of course Alcott's life and books as well as Thoreau's, Emerson's and Walt Whitman's, who feature in the novel as they do in the Alcotts' real life.Louisa lives with her 3 sisters and her parents. Her father Bronson is a famous transcendentalist possessing no money, no practical sense, but many philosophical ideas about how life should be lived. It's really kind of fascinating to read about, the family's lifestyle due to the father. The novel is full of interesting details about how daily life was lived back then, too, for example candle making, garden plotting, shopping, etc. Louisa is full of passion and fiery temper and a desire for independence. She is not in favor of marriage, due to her parents' example and her desire for time to write and her feeling that marriage shackles women, but during this "lost summer" that the author invents, Louisa meets a young man who might change her mind, and who serves as a future template for Jo's love interest "Laurie" in Little Women.
beserene on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Normally, I hate the books that attempt to cram fiction into the lives of my favorite authors. I also hate the insulting implication that literary geniuses like Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott must have had love affairs in order to write brilliantly about relationships between people -- as if these authors do not have enough skill, imagination, and observational power to write such stories on their own.So, I was a bit nervous when I sat down to read Kelly O'Connor McNees' The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott. And I continued to be a little bit on edge as I read the first half -- as the author settled in to Louisa's mode of writing, as the circumstances of the novel unfolded through fade-in images that were half-familiar, as the persons with whom I had been acquainted through non-fiction became characters.In the end, however, after all that nervousness, and after a considerable period of "getting used to" the novel, I was pleasantly surprised by this book. McNees is incredibly respectful -- instead of twisting the facts as others have done, she has done her research and found an empty space in Alcott's life, one just the right size for a romance. The love interest she created for Alcott is not too much like Laurie (of 'Little Women' fame) to be cloying, but has echoes of the character enough to allow us to see McNees' inspiration. The light hand and gentle tone of the writing echo -- again, respectfully -- Alcott's own, particularly in 'Little Women'. It did take some getting used to, this approximation of another author's voice, but as I read I realized that it was necessary.Is this a great and lasting piece of literary genius? Probably not. But it is a sweet and tactful offering, from one Alcott fan to the others of us who have not been so bold as to take up the pen in imitation of our hero. Overall, well worth the read.
JackieBlem on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I don't think I can find the words for how very much I loved this book. McNees worked from several biographies and Alcott's own journals to create this fictionalized account of a rumored love affair that the intensely private L.M.A. covered up. In these pages blooms the walking, talking inspirations for the characters in Little Women and some of Alcott's other books. It is at once very familiar and very new, and every page was rivoting for me--I lost a lot of sleep to this book. I felt the echo of my much younger self, that girl who marveled at her first (but not her last) reading of Little Women and then her voracious consumption of all things Alcott one muggy Ohio summer. Louisa May Alcott was an amazing if rather brittle woman, and this book shows her in all of hercomplexity. I simply cannot recommend this book enough.
tibobi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Short of It:The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott has all of the charm of Little Women. The strong family dynamic is present as well as the promise of true love. A well-told story that¿s a pleasure to read.The Rest of It:In 1855, the Alcott family moved to Walpole, New Hampshire. Not much is known about the real-life Alcotts but McNees chooses this time period to tell the tale of young Louisa. Strong-willed and stubborn, she has a strong sense of family and an even stronger sense of pride. Determined to be a serious writer, she has no time for romance but when she meets Joseph Singer, she can¿t quite explain the feelings that she has for him. Is it possible for a woman to have a career and a relationship without losing her sense of self?I feel that it¿s important to note that I have not read Little Women in its entirety. I started it ages ago and loved every bit of it, but then got sidetracked and never picked it up again. If my memory serves me, I got through about half of it, but it was enough for me to fall in love with the characters. I felt the same way about The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott. Although parts of it do include a bit of historical fact, it is a fictional tale of the family that inspired Little Women and I feel that it had the same feel as the classic that we¿ve all come to love.I know there are some hardcore fans of Little Women who¿ll dig deep to find fault with this book, but there¿s really no need for it. As I was reading, I could tell that McNees adores the classic as much as the next reader (if not more) and the care she takes to breathe life into Louisa is genuine and well thought out. I adored Louisa and all of her sisters and although her parents proved to be frustrating at times, especially her father, I could literally see them upon the page.The other part that I enjoyed quite a bit were all the literary references. I could easily see Louisa sitting in her room, reading Dickens. This is the type of book that book lovers love. It reads well, it includes characters that we already love, and it makes the classic even more appealing.I do not feel that you need to read Little Women prior to reading TLSOLMA, but after reading this book, I now feel that I must finish Little Women.
ccReadsBooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I just loved this book. I thought the characters were very well developed, and I felt like Louisa was sympathetic. She seemed stubborn at times, which I would expect, and I'm not sure her choices would have been my choices. But they really seemed like the ones she would have made. The ending was bittersweet and very moving, partly because of how much I could relate to Louisa. The historical detail was wonderful too. The place and period felt very natural. I'm looking forward to the author's next book. But first I think I'll read Little Women again!
LaBibliophille on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Who has not read and adored Louisa May Alcott's Little Women? Since its publication in 1868, there has been much speculation as to how much of the novel is based on Alcott's life, and how much is pure fiction. The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott, the first novel by Kelly O'Connor McNees, is an attempt to fill in the blanks of Alcott's life, and to give her a romance which probably never happened.In 1855 the Alcott family, once again in dire financial straits, accepts the generous offer a relative and moves into an empty house in Walpole, New Hampshire. The Alcott daughters become friendly with other young people in the town. Louisa falls in love with Joseph Singer, the son of a local dry-goods merchant. Louisa feels that she is meant to be a writer, and she has no way to realize that dream and remain involved with Joseph. When Joseph's engagement to a local girl is announced, Louisa realizes that she must begin to lead the independent life she has long desired.Louisa's older sister, Anna, also falls in love with a local young man. Her dream of a happily married life with him ends abruptly, and she leaves Walpole for a teaching position in Syracuse. As in Little Women, younger sister Lizzie (Beth in the novel) struggles with ill health while May (aka Amy, the youngest) is pretty, spoiled, and lazy.Once again, I have to give thanks to the LibraryThing Early Reviewer program, which sent me this book. I really enjoyed it, although now I am a bit tired of the literary device of imagining the private life of famous authors. Are all the new ideas taken?
bookaholicmom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott, we are introduced to a 22 year old Louisa, who is moving to Walpole, New Hampshire with her family due to financial difficulties. While there Louisa struggles with the desire to be a writer and duty to her family. Love and marriage are not options she is willing to consider. She would like nothing more than to go to Boston, live alone and be a writer. Then she meets Joseph Singer. Louisa finds herself smitten and confused. Is there room for love, family and writing? Kelly O'Connor McNees captures the essence of the Alcott family beautifully. I felt that the way the family was depicted was in line with things I have read or seen about the Alcott family. Louisa was just a I had imagined her to be and reminded me of Jo in Little Women. I enjoyed this book immensely! I can't recommend it enough. Just like when I read Little Women as a young girl, I didn't want this story to end! I'm looking forward to seeing what Kelly O'Connor McNees writes next.
toofacedgrl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I received this book through the Early Reviewers Program. The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott was everything I expected it to be--a pleasing and comfortable read, but nothing that deviates too far from what historians and biographers have uncovered about Louisa May Alcott¿s life.Surprisingly, what I enjoyed most about the book was the author¿s motivation for her plausible [fictional] account of LMR¿s life as a young lady during her brief time in Walpole, NH. She sought to give shape and substance to a woman who had been depicted differently by various biographers. I also found it fascinating to hear more about Louisa¿s father, Bronson, his philosophies, and how his friends, lifestyle choices, and ideals shaped Louisa and the author she would become. I would recommend this book to any aficionado of Louisa May Alcott¿s work. Fans of Little Women will definitely enjoy the novel, but it is, as Movie!Laurie said, ¿a mediocre copy of another (wo)man¿s genius.¿