Sunday, March 2, 2014

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

This book was an extremely quick read but totally disappointing. There are simply no happy endings, only short-lived moments of joy. If you're going to fictionalize not just the life of a famous author, but her whole family, you could at least give the reader more than fleeting happiness to walk away with. Not even Louisa seems content with her writing career in the end -- how sad is that?

The book focuses on a single year really in Louisa's adult life when her family relocates from Concord, Mass. to Walpole, New Hampshire. Her family is living off the charity of others since her father refuses to work a "day job," so she's struggling between the demands of helping her family sustain themselves and the desire to strike out on her own and really pursue her writing. She's already been published at this point and has saved enough money to venture out on her own, but decided to help her family settle into their new home first. 

In the midst of her time in Walpole, she falls in love, waffling back and forth between the traditional concept of marriage as an acceptable future and her continuing desire for her independence. How it translates in the book though is in repeated confrontations between the lovers where Louisa caves in - admits her love and willingness to be with her man - waits a minute to think it over, and changes her mind, abandoning him. It's redundant with a bad payoff since at the end of the book she's not even fulfilled by the ultimate choice she makes for herself.

I love Little Women and had no expectations this book would mirror any stories from that book, but I was hoping for a little less depressing drama and a little more positive character growth. So many books are popping up that fictionalize the life of someone well-known and I admit that I do enjoy the genre, but skip this book. It's just not worth even the brief investment.

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