The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott
By Kelly O'Connor McNees
(Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam, Hardcover, 9780399156526, 352pp.)
Publication Date: April 1, 2010
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In the bestselling tradition of Loving Frank and March comes a novel for anyone who loves Little Women.
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.
- Have you ever read a poem or book that profoundly challenged or changed your worldview? How might the events of the novel have differed if Walt Whitman had not published Leaves of Grass in the summer of 1855?
"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