The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O'Conner McNees {review}

Title: The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott
Author: Kelly O'Conner McNees
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Publication Date: May 3, 2011
paperback, 376 pages
ISBN: 978-0-425-24083-0
available @ Amazon | B&N | Book Depository

Summary: 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.

I spent a lot of time in my pre-teen years in love with the writing of Louisa May Alcott.  Little Women was and still is a favorite of mine. I wanted to be one of the March girls. In The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott, Kelly O' Conner McNees visits the 'what if ' possibilities of Louisa May Alcott's life. What if Louisa  fell in love with a man. Would she be willing to give up everything she dreams about? Can she live by her pen alone? These questions are what lured me into this novel. 
This book takes place in 1855, Louisa and her family move to New Hampshire. Louisa's father, Bronson is a well known transcendentalist. He didn't manage money very well so the Alcott's lived a life of poverty. Louisa is desperate to find her own wings and fly to freedom. She longs to be able to pursue her dreams of becoming a famous writer. She doesn't want anything or anyone holding her back. That is until she meets Joseph Singer. Joseph is a small town boy who is handsome, kind and charming. He's quite a catch and he has his sights set on Louisa. Will she be able to refuse him?
I really enjoyed this story from beginning to end. Kelly  O'Conner McNees took care to add factual details to this wonderful story. I really liked the way McNees portrayed Louisa's struggles. She was going against the grain of society at this time and it was not easy. She had dreams other than being a wife and a mother. Then she finds someone who understands her, someone whom she can be herself with. Joseph Singer challenges Louisa in ways she didn't expect. He opens up her mind and heart to experiences she never dreamed of.  This is a deeply romantic story that I fell in love with. My heart broke with Louisa's as she was forced to make decisions that would change the course of her future. 
Overall this was a great book. This book is fiction, but I would recommend it for fans of Louisa May Alcott. It made me think of Little Women over and over again. I wonder how her life and the fictional life of Jo March paralleled. I though Kelly O'Conner McNees did a fantastic job of giving Louisa May Alcott's life a little romance.  Well done.

Find out more about the author by visiting her website | blog | twitter

*I received a copy of this book for review purposes only. This in no way influenced my review.   


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