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

Louisa May Alcott and her family move to Walpole where a cousin has let them live in a house for a summer. Her family is very poor, for her father doesn’t believe in working to support his family. Louisa is scraping to save up enough money to move to Boston and become an author, while helping her family settle into their new home. One day she meets a young man, Joseph Singer, who runs a local shop. Louisa unexpectedly falls in love and struggles to admit it, even to herself. She has one brief passionate summer of wondering what it would be like to be a wife and have a home like every other girl she knows. But Louisa feels that it must be one or the other, follow her love of writing, or follow her heart.

I was unsure as to whether I would like this book because I am such a fan of Little Women. I was scared it would ruin the authoress for me (even though yes, I know, it’s fiction) but I enjoyed it a lot. It made me feel like we got a taste of Little Women, but in a whole new story.

Louisa has a touch of Jo in her, she is independent, stubborn, has a temper and loves to spends hours and days writing. Her sister Anna is a steady traditional girl, who tries to do well for her family and hopes to raise her own. Her father is distant and uninterested in supporting his family, in this we can see how she may have written herself a better father in Little Women, one who treasured and supported his daughters. Her little sister May is spoiled and beautiful, much like Amy. Her sister Lizzie is weak and sick most of the time, unable to do much on her own. Their mother works hard, but doesn’t have the spark of life and soft comfort that Mrs. March has in the original tale. In this, we see that McNee wondered if maybe Ms. Alcott wrote her childhood over again, with much more joy and light for the March family than she experienced herself.

In Ms. McNees’s creation we get a peek at what could have inspired the classic book we all know and love. And even though it may be fictional, it is a comforting book for all Little Women readers, who have always wished for just one more story about the March family.

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