by Kelly O'Connor McNees
Reviewed by: Jennifer Chretien, Reference Librarian
Louisa May Alcott is one of my all time favorite authors. I still treasure the hardcover version of Little Women that I received on my 8th birthday. I still re-read it every year, and shop old bookstores for early copies of her books.
Stuck in small-town New Hampshire in 1855, Louisa May Alcott finds herself torn between a surprising love and her dreams of independence as a writer in Boston. Kelly O'Connor McNees did extensive research on the Alcott family, which is apparent with every detail of the book, and makes this feel much more than a work of biographical fiction. She chose to write her book about a period in Louisa's life that very little is known about, the summer of 1855. Here she weaves a beautiful and poignant summer love story between Louisa and a young shopkeeper. Both are torn between their desire for each other, and their obligation to care for their families because of the failings of their fathers.
While the love story is touching and well done, the true highlight of the book for me was how well developed Louisa was. McNees did an amazing job of showcasing Louisa's struggles and her resentment towards her Father for emotionally (and financially) neglecting his family in pursuit of his idealistic transcendence movement. This is a far different father than portrayed in Alcott's writings. My criticism with this book was the lack of development of the sisters and Marmee; who comes across as slightly hysterical, overprotective, and lacking the dynamic of the Marmee we know and love from the books.
I also got the sense of being rushed through. The romance seemed too quick. The ending almost seemed as an afterthought, which was a shame considering the amount of care and detail that went into crafting the character of Louisa. This was a fast paced read, and another book that can be shared by Mothers and Daughters alike.
Rating: 3 stars