Berkley, $15.00, 376 pages
Louisa May Alcott was an extremely private young woman who became famous during her own short lifetime for her writing. In this accounting, written in the style of Ms. Alcott’s own novels, the author and her family summered in Walpole New Hampshire just before much change overtakes the family. The novel paints a happy picture of a time in her life before she was famous. During this summer, she meets the Laurie to her Jo, who tempts her away from the course she has set for herself. Most significantly, Ms. Alcott wrestles with a turning point in her life in which she must choose between a conventional life and making her own way in the world by her pen.
This novel mirrors in some aspects, her most famous work, Little Women which has never been out of print since it was published in 1868. It was based on her own life with her sisters and contained such passion that it lead generations including Kelly O’Connor McNees to speculate on the love life of Ms. Alcott herself. This novel is a fictionalized account of an actual summer from Ms. Alcott’s journals that was written in such vague terms, that it left room for more. More is what McNees delivers with authentic dialogue between characters and descriptions of their daily lives. Perhaps the most fascinating thing to come out of this novel was an explanation for the unsatisfactory (in this author’s opinion) ending to Little Women, in which Jo marries the professor and Laurie marries her sister Amy.
Reviewed by Rachelle Barrett