Genre: Historical Fiction
Published: May 3, 2011
Publisher: Penguin Group Canada
Source: Free review copy from publisher
Find the author: Goodreads
Where to buy: Amazon || Chapters || The Book Depository
From Goodreads: 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.
My Thoughts: I thoroughly enjoyed The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott. I absolutely love historical fiction, and fell in love with the way that McNees was able to weave together the few facts that we have of LMA and her relationships with a richly imagined ‘lost summer’. LMA and her family did spend the summer of 1855 in Walpole, New Hampshire – but Joseph, Nora and Nicholas were all products of McNees’ creativity.
McNees’ writing was lyrical and the book flowed at a beautiful pace. The slower pace of the writing and the vivid descriptions of characters and settings really allowed me as a reader to feel as though I was in the story along side of Louisa. While not a whole lot happened in terms of events during this novel, the writing was so descriptive and evoked so many vivid images that I didn’t need there to be a lot of action. There was not one moment where I couldn’t picture LMA as she stole a copy of Whitman’s poetry from her father’s study and read it by dimming candlelight, or wrote through the night until her paper was so full of ink that the words ran together.
LMA did not have an easy childhood and while her family was hardly able to put enough food on the table they were still very close knit and her best friend was her oldest sister Anna. McNees brilliantly captured the day to day struggles faced by the Alcott family and this is why I loved this book so much. It wasn’t so much about what LMA did during her ‘lost summer’ it was about who she was, and the environment that shaped her as a woman and a writer.
Of course this book was not all fact, the love story in the book with Joseph was purely fiction, and McNees did a remarkable job of making this believable. She was also able to work in a connection between Joseph and Laurie from Little Women (you will just have to read the book to see how she does this). I loved the chemistry and tension that was depicted between Louisa and Joseph – theirs was not simply a physical attraction but they also acted as intellectual sparring partners and Joseph seemed to challenge her in ways that no one else did.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott and would recommend it to any fans of Little Women, LMA, or anyone looking for a lovely and sweet historical fiction.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, Penguin Canada (big thank you!), in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.