Tuesday, June 29, 2010

REVIEW: The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott, by Kelly O'Connor McNees

The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott, by Kelly O'Connor McNees. Published 2010 by Amy Einhorn Books. Fiction.

Growing up in Massachusetts and in the Boston area, Louisa May Alcott, her books and the story of her family are just about ubiquitous. Her home, the town of Concord, is a short drive from my home and her most famous novel, Little Women, is a quintessentially New England tale of family and growing up, and yet somehow, despite all that, I've never read it!

Still I was intrigued by Kelly O'Connor McNees's book, a fictionalized version of Louisa May Alcott's youth, about a "lost summer" during which she fell in love with a young man named Joseph who bears a striking resemblance to the character of Laurie in Little Women, the handsome neighbor who falls in love with Jo, the main character. Young Louisa is a budding writer living in a household impoverished by her father's unsuccessful career as a philosopher and writer. She struggles along with her mother and sisters to make do, all the while dreaming of a future as a writer. One summer, her family moves to New Hampshire, where living is less expensive. Here, she and her sisters fall in with the local young people and decide to put on some amateur theatricals. She meets Joseph, an intelligent and intriguing young man.

Now, anyone who knows Alcott's real life story knows how this affair turns out, but I don't know much about her, and I didn't know how it would turn out. I enjoyed the slight element of suspense, although I suppose there was never really any doubt as to what would happen. Overall the book is charming. It's a fairly quick read as the plot and the lively characters kept me turning the pages. Written in a light and accessible style with lively characters and a vivid setting, it's the perfect summer hammock book. An obvious choice for fans of Little Women, The Lost Summer would be a great choice for popular- and women's-fiction readers looking for a delightful, sweet way to pass a few hours.

Rating: BEACH

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from the publicist.