The Other Alcott

The Other Alcott

by Elise Hooper
4.4 5


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The Other Alcott 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous 9 months ago
A beautifully-written, inspiring story about complex, creative women blazing their own paths. I was up until 3am devouring this book and found myself emotionally spent by the end. The author does an amazing job bringing you into the lives of the Alcott sisters and making you feel their love, competitiveness and unbreakable bond. For anyone who has had a passion to do more, a complicated familial relationship or a love of literature, this one is for you.
bookchickdi 9 months ago
I'm not sure there are many women who don't remember reading Louisa May Alcott's Little Women at some point in their lives. The characters were based in part on Louisa's own family- Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy, and of course Marmee and Father stood in for Anna, Louisa, Lizzie, May and the real-life Marmee and Father. Elise Hooper's The Other Alcott fictionalizes the story of May Alcott. The book begins with the rave reviews for the recently published Little Women. May drew the illustrations for the book, which received much harsh criticism. May was devastated by this because she wants to become an artist. Louisa isn't very understanding of May's feelings. She appears to be jealous of May's "lucky", sunny nature, claiming that everything usually always goes May's way; perhaps there is a little schadenfreude going on. May is unhappy that people have the perception that it is luck and not a function of her hard work. May wants to get out from under Louisa's shadow and study art in nearby Boston. The money that Louisa earns from her writing supports her parents and May, and she is beginning to feel constrained by this obligation. Louisa takes May to Boston with her, and then to Europe to study. May is thrilled to travel to Europe. While there, she meets many famous female artists, like Jane Gardner and Mary Cassatt, and becomes moderately successful, though it takes her a long time and much study and hard work to get there. After Louisa returns home to care for their parents, she sends letters to May insisting she come home and take her place while she writes. May is torn between her love and obligation to her family and her desire to be her own person and pursue her own career. The relationship between Louisa and May is complicated and at the heart of this terrific debut novel, and Hooper writes in her afterward that she embellished the length of the strained relationship for dramatic reasons. I particularly enjoyed reading about the art scene in Europe in the late 19th century, especially how female artists fought for recognition denied to them as the "weaker sex". May made friends easily, and there are so many interesting characters in her life that are well-drawn here by the author. People who love Little Women, as well as all the novels about wives of famous men like The Paris Wife, The Aviator's Wife and Loving Frank, will want to read the Other Alcott, as will people who enjoy stories about art and artists. I read it in one day, unwilling to put it down.
Honolulubelle 9 months ago
My Rating: 4.5 Thoughtful Stars Favorite Quotes: You two make me glad I’m an only child. I’m advising you to find the balance between painting your subject with mastery and sensitivity. In other words, if a client hires you to paint a portrait of his horse-faced wife, you better find a way to make those horsey features attractive. She had violet-colored eyes that glowed like amethysts from under a fringe of long black lashes. Between her size and extraordinary eye color, she looked like a fairy. May eyed the remarkable-looking woman’s ears to be sure they weren’t pointed. He picked at his lapels with soft, white fingers that made May squeamish with the sensation she was viewing a body part better left unexposed. When Herr and Frau Nieriker disembarked from the train on Saturday morning, they made a distinctive couple. She possessed the stout figure of a pickling jar whereas he resembled a fork, long and thin with a thatch of white hair that stuck straight upward in tines. My Review: I seldom read historical novels as the feminist in me becomes extremely chafed by how poorly women were treated – even by their own families. Not that we are always treated so well now, but women had no rights and such limited input or control over their lives and bodies. This story brought that point home and I could feel the frustration of both May, her friends and fellow artists, and despite her success, even her crabby sister Louisa. I cannot imagine the massive amount of research Ms. Hooper completed for this fascinating and thought-provoking story that was inspired by real people and factual accounts. It was an interesting and inspiring read that often squeezed my heart, and had an ending and Afterward that stung my eyes. I greatly enjoyed the history lesson of the exciting artist movement of Impressionism as I have always admired the works of Monet and Degas. I grew to greatly admire May who was the youngest of the surviving daughters of intelligent yet irresponsible parents. Louisa was already gaining recognition and fame as the author of Little Women as the story began, while May who aspired to be an artist, was devastated by criticisms and humiliating reviews of the illustrations she had completed for Louisa’s book. She yearned and worked hard for her own independence and achievements/recognition apart from the constraints of her family and especially Louisa, and often feared she would forever be connected to and lessened by her more popular sister. Louisa was surly and irritable; although I imagine I would be as well if I had to support and care for my entire family by writing the type of book I didn’t enjoy while my lazy and negligent father was riding my coattails. Ms. Hooper produced a masterful and well-balanced story and had me feeling far more sympathetic and empathetic toward both women by the conclusion.
Anonymous 10 months ago
Engaging novel with many historical references to the Alcott and women artists of their time.
Heart2Heart 11 months ago
I don't know of any girl who hasn't heard or read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. In fact it is required reading in most homes because of the story line involving women who defy the odds despite grueling circumstances and forge ahead into an unknown future. With the success of her sister Louisa, now a well-known author in their small town of Concord, Boston, it seems that May Alcott (Amy March) is doomed to bear the guilt of living in her popular sister's notoriety even though she submitted her own drawings as illustrations. However while the book when on to be a world wide success, the reviewers were less than kind with their comments about May's illustrations. Enough so to crush her dreams if she only let them. In the 1900's finding a suitable art school that would both teach and admit women was hard pressed to locate. May believed if she just had the right instructor to help her with human anatomy and refining her drawing skills, she might just make something of herself much like Louisa did. After all she didn't get published after her first novel. So perhaps it is just a matter of finding the perfect person to teach her. She befriends her ex-boyfriends childhood friend Alice who is wealthy beyond measure and never knows what it is like for someone like May who had to learn to make do with whatever they had, whenever they had it. Alice inspires a dream within May that perhaps the perfect place to learn art is what the master's studied. In Paris, France. So manages to convince Alice and Louisa to join her, after all who wouldn't want to meet the author of Little Women on a world-wind tour of Europe, and that is something May can stomach as long as it meets her own objectives. She isn't about to let anyone tell her what she can and can't do, even her perspective suitor Joshua. She agrees that perhaps she isn't the one for him after all and packs up all her belongings and heads out on a ocean voyage to Europe. She just doesn't plan for her plans to change. With seasickness keeping her confined to her cabin most of the voyage, she finally thinks she can catch a breath of fresh ocean air, when she learns all passengers are confined to their cabins that to a smallpox outbreak on board. She also learns that Bismark has invaded Paris and most of the people there are starving, even eating rats if they can find them. So with a change of plans not letting these things deter her, she sets out more resolved than even to find her own life and her own future. I received The Other Alcott by Elise Hooper compliments of William Morrow, a division of Harper Collins Publishers. I have found similar novels like this one where they expand on the lives of the secondary characters and in this case, this is May's story. This is Elise Hooper's debut novel and I believe she does an great job in helping readers get to know the lesser known characters from the Alcott's Little Women novel. This is going to be a must read for fans of the original novel and I would give this one a 4 out of 5 stars in my opinion. There is even a Questions and Answers section for the author at the conclusion of this novel as well as Reader's Discussion Guide questions that would make this an wonderful book club novel.