Historical Fiction: The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott, by Kelly O. McNees

The Lost Summer of Louisa May AlcottLouisa in Love

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Louisa May Alcott is one of the world’s most famous literary spinsters. So how did she learn about love, one of the central themes of her writing? Freshman author Kelly O’Connor McNees conjures up a youthful romantic entanglement for the iconic LMA, dramatizing the conflict she might have experienced between the yearnings of her head and those of her heart. The Lost Summer could easily have been written by Alcott herself, much of it playing out within the Alcott family during the season they resided in a borrowed house in Walpole, New Hampshire. Louisa finds herself drawn to a local man, the young and handsome proprietor of the town’s dry goods store. Her dream is to establish herself as a successful, independent writer, in part to fulfill her intellectual strivings, and in part to provide the support for her family denied them by Bronson Alcott’s head in the clouds philosophical stance. Is it possible for any woman to marry, provide a home for her husband, raise her children, and still accomplish her dream?

This is a charming story, full of period detail, bittersweet love, and quotes from LMA’s own works, but it reads, essentially, like a romance written for young adults. Perhaps wholesome is the word which best describes it. There’s nothing wrong with wholesome, of course, providing that readers are not in search of something deeper.

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