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

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

Louisa Alcott wants nothing more than to be a professional writer; she wants to go off to Boston and make her way in the world as a completely independent woman. Her family needs her now, however. Louisa’s father, an ardent transcendentalist, refuses to work on principal, so his wife and four daughters survive largely on the kindness of others. When the family is offered the use of a house in Walpole, New Hampshire their lives are already starting to change, and when Louisa meets a young man named Joe, she must reconsider what exactly it is that she wants from life.

It has been a very long time since I read “Little Women” and the sequels, but I loved them as a child and so was excited to get a taste of Louisa Alcott’s life in “The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott.” Novelizations of famous authors such Louisa May Alcott can be tricky at times, especially versions like this that posit a romantic relationship for which there is no actual evidence. Honestly, I was a little worried that “The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott” might succumb to ┬áJane Austen-syndrome – a flurry of vaguely related novels that often border on the absurd. Luckily, McNees did not even come close to falling into that trap.

The best part about “The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott” is the fantastic historical detail that McNees brings to her story. Everything felt quite authentic and I was amazed by the people with whom the Alcotts rubbed elbows. I also loved learning about Louisa’s family, since I knew nothing about her life or family prior to reading “The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott.” I have to say, her father drove me crazy! Idealism is one thing, but he didn’t seem to have even a modicum of practicality.

As for the fictional romance, far from seeming absurd, I think it actually helped to illustrate Louisa’s character. It truly caused her to evaluate what it was that she wanted from life and make difficult decisions. McNees did an admirable job putting Louisa into a situation where we could really be shown her character instead of having to be told about it.

Loved it! Whether you’re a fan of Louisa May Alcott or you simply like historical fiction about strong, independent (but not overly modern) women I highly recommend “The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott.”

Buy this book from:
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound

This review was done with a book received from Lydia at Putnam Books for this TLC Book Tour.
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21 comments to The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O’Connor McNees – Book Review

  • Glad you liked this so much! I think I will too based on what you’ve said.

  • Haven’t heard a bad word about this one! I think it is very clever to take history and spin it like this, especially with such a beloved figure as Alcott!

  • I think I am going to have to read this one. I loved Little Women when I was younger. I am one of four girls too so we all related to LW.

  • I must write my review of this — I’m a huge LMA fan.

  • I thought this book was well done. It was quite enjoyable and I thought it captured Louisa very much to how I imagined her to be from what I have read about her. Great review!

  • Little Women was my favorite book as a kid. I recently started this one. So far I’m loving it.

  • I thought McNees did a marvelous job of blending the beloved characters of Little Women into the reality of the Alcott’s lives.

  • I loved Alcott – I still do, actually. I have to admit, I’m a more than a bit suspicious about these kind of books. I tend not to like it when someone takes a character invented by another author and revises them… I feel like it’s cheating. However, since this involves the author, I think I’ll give it a shot. :)

  • I am so excited to read this one! Glad that it is so good.

  • Can’t wait to read this one!!! I wish I could drop everything and read!

  • i just saw this yesterday at the bookstore and it looks marvelous! i will definitely read it!

  • nicole langan

    will add to my list. Thanks!

  • Little Women is one of my all time favorite books, so I’m really looking forward to reading this one. Glad to see you loved it.

  • I loved it too! And I agree with what you said about the romance highlighting how and why LMA made the choices she did–it wasn’t very romantic, but it served the story well.

  • It looks like you and I had similar opinions and picked up on the same things. I agree with your assessment that the history behind the book was flawless. I think it made the book. The romantic part of me loves to think that Louisa did have one great love but turned it down to focus on her writing, just like in the book. The fact that the story is entirely plausible is another charming aspect of the story!

  • I am so intrigued by this one! Glad to hear you liked it so much!

  • Wow! Thanks, everybody, for the interest in the book. It’s so fun to see what readers are saying. Hope you enjoy it, and I hope I have the chance to meet you all somewhere along the way! Best wishes.

  • I loved this one too! It brought back warm memories of LW from my childhood!

  • I’m so glad you liked it! I agree that it was amazing who Louisa rubbed elbows with, people whose thoughts and opinions are still considered quite profound. I sure wish I could have hung with Emerson. I find him to be very fascinating.

    Thanks for being on this tour!

  • barb klein

    Loved your new novel, The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott. Can’t believe it is your first novel. Will be recommending it to all my reading friends.

    • Hi Barb,

      I am actually not Kelly O’Connor McNees, I just reviewed her book. I do agree that it is fantastic, though, and I’ve met Ms. McNees and she’s fantastic as well. She has her own website and blog. My site is a book review blog. Since you liked “The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott,” you may also be interested in reading my reviews of:
      The White Queen” and “The Red Queen” by Philippa Gregory
      The Life You’ve Imagined” by Kristina Riggle
      Claude and Camille” by Stephanie Cowell
      or “Pearl of China” by Anchee Min, depending on what it was that you liked about “The Lost Summer…”

      I hope you’ll stick around and check out more reviews!

      Jen – Devourer of Books