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Review: The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott

May 15, 2011

Bronson Alcott was a philosopher and free-thinker who didn’t believe in working.  He and his family often relied on the charity of others, so they were happy to live in an uncle’s house in Walpole, New Hampshire for the summer of 1855.  While they were there, Louisa met Joseph Singer and just as she started to think of a future with him, she discovered that his father had other ideas for his son’s future.

The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O’Connor McNees is a must read for every Louisa May Alcott fan!   The story is a work of fiction, but many of the historical details are true.  I found them to be fascinating!  I loved Louisa and her independent spirit and have to admit that I wasn’t too fond of Bronson, her father.  He had lofty ideals that he wasn’t willing to compromise even though his family suffered because of them. I felt for his family – especially his wife.  I wanted her to leave him but realized that wasn’t really an option for women at the time.

The writing of this book is solid and compelling – I was always anxious to get back to it whenever I had to put it down.  The story McNees has imagined is plausible and has piqued my interest in the time period and in the Alcott family.  I  loved The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott and think it will appeal to a wide range of readers – those who love women’s fiction and historical fiction as well as fans of Little Women.  Do yourself a favor and pick this book up!

Check out the fun trailer for this book:

Challenges: Amy Einhorn Challenge

Review copy provided by Amazon Vine.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

51 Comments leave one →
  1. May 15, 2011 7:21 am

    I liked this book very much when I read it last year. My feelings were much the same as yours – frustration with Bronson and realization that there was not a lot they could do about it. I just wanted the man to work to support his family! LOL

    The trailer is a good one!

  2. May 15, 2011 7:30 am

    I have not read this one, Kathy, but I do admire Alcott. I’ll put this title on my list. Thanks.

  3. May 15, 2011 7:53 am

    Bronson was an idealist and he held fast to those ideals … One of the best trailers ever.

  4. May 15, 2011 8:01 am

    Sounds really good. It’s on my shelf and on my summer reading list.

  5. May 15, 2011 8:57 am

    OMG that is a fabulous trailer! (My daughter is sitting next to me and called me a book geek.) You know, I’ve never read Little Women and don’t consider myself to be a fan, but I’m about 80% through this audio and I’m absolutely loving it. What a charming, charming story. And the narrator is excellent too…she narrated “Revolution” by Jennifer Connelly and won me over.

  6. May 15, 2011 9:13 am

    I’m not really a Louise May Alcott fan but I know that those who are really like this book!

  7. May 15, 2011 9:17 am

    I have had this on my TBR for a while, and it sounds like a really great summertime read! Thanks for your review,

  8. May 15, 2011 9:25 am

    This is the funniest book trailer of all time.

  9. May 15, 2011 9:28 am

    Glad you liked this one – I thought it was a lot of fun!

  10. May 15, 2011 9:34 am

    I really enjoyed your review of this one Kathy. I loved Little Women, and when I was little I liked to think I was named after Beth (but of course, I really wasn’t).

    A book that calls to you to come back when you put it down, is definitely one I want to put on my TBR list.

  11. kaye permalink
    May 15, 2011 9:35 am

    Why would she marry him in the first place if he didn’t like to work? I can’t even imagine a man like that. Kick him to the curb!! But, of course you are right; it just wasn’t an option back then.

  12. May 15, 2011 9:59 am

    Oh Kathy – I had such great plans of reading this book when it was first released, but alas that didn’t quite happen. Thank you so much for putting this book back on my TBR radar. I can think of no better way to spend my own summer than reading about Alcott’s lost summer 🙂

    I started Little Women during the Christmas holidays – but had to put it on hold. I think I will finish that novel – read this one – and then plan to watch the classic movie.

  13. May 15, 2011 10:01 am

    So excited for Kelly! Glad you loved it! XOXO

  14. May 15, 2011 10:26 am

    Such a great book trailer, especially with the big guys reading Little Women. lol As one of the many women who imagined themselves as Jo when they were little girls, I’m intrigued by the notion of this book.

  15. May 15, 2011 10:31 am

    Sounds great and I looooove that dress.

  16. May 15, 2011 10:58 am

    I’m thrilled that this book is amazing! I haven’t really read Little Women (hiding under the bed while I confess to that), but I do plan to read it and then pick this one too!

  17. May 15, 2011 11:00 am

    I still haven’t seen this out in the UK! I am seriously waiting for it.

  18. May 15, 2011 11:11 am

    I love Little Women so much that I finally bought this book. Your review makes me look forward to reading it.

  19. May 15, 2011 12:01 pm

    I loved this book! It is one of my favorites as is Little Women. Bronson was a frustrating man. I couldn’t imagine being married to him. The trailer is hilarious!

  20. May 15, 2011 12:40 pm

    It always amazes me how the covers are so different. I’ve seen the one on the vlog at my bookstore. I’ve passed it many times and now it seems I have to get it after reading your review. Adding it now 🙂

  21. May 15, 2011 1:08 pm

    I so want to read this one! I think the new cover is absolutely beautiful!

  22. May 15, 2011 1:19 pm

    I enjoyed your review. I remember Louisa’s father. I’ve read somewhere that he had an idea for a Utopian society. I think he tried out this philosophy on a farm or some rural area. I have forgotten why it failed. Louisa was very caring and hard working. Writing those stories to make money to help her family out of financial difficulties. Great book. Thanks.

  23. May 15, 2011 2:01 pm

    I have a confession: I’ve never finished Little Women! I don’t feel as close to Louisa May Alcott’s writing as many others who have loved her books, but this one sounds really interesting. 😀

  24. May 15, 2011 2:16 pm

    This book was one of my faves from last year!! I LOVED IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  25. Carol Wong permalink
    May 15, 2011 3:07 pm

    Now I really want to read it!

  26. Beth Hoffman permalink
    May 15, 2011 3:11 pm

    It’s a terrific book and Kelly is one of my favorite people — genuinely kind and big-hearted! I’m so glad you enjoyed the book too. Happy Sunday, Kathy. See you soon!

  27. May 15, 2011 3:11 pm

    I can’t say I am a fan of her since I know nothing at all about her. But if it is good I would read it

  28. May 15, 2011 4:03 pm

    I must read this.

  29. May 15, 2011 4:25 pm

    I really liked this book too. I read it right after reading an excellent biography about her life though, and for that reason alone I wasn’t as riveted as I would have been otherwise.

  30. May 15, 2011 5:40 pm

    I read this last summer, and really enjoyed it. I’m glad you also enjoyed it, Kathy!

  31. May 15, 2011 5:48 pm

    I also was really angry with Bronson when I read this book, and aside from the fact that he made me mad, I enjoyed this book greatly. I think it really put flesh and bones on what I knew about Alcott, and I also had a hard time putting this one down. Fantastic review, Kathy! I am so glad that you loved this book like I did!

  32. May 15, 2011 5:55 pm

    I keep hearing good things about this book! I sooooo need to find myself a copy.

  33. May 15, 2011 8:10 pm

    I’ve heard so many good things about this book. Glad you liked it too.

  34. May 15, 2011 8:41 pm

    Such a fun imagining of what could have happened that summer in Walpole – and, yes, so many great historical details.

  35. May 15, 2011 11:59 pm

    I have wanted to read this one for a long long time and still have not picked it up!

  36. May 16, 2011 1:51 am

    This was one of my favorite books last year. I love the new cover from the paperback. I’m so glad you enjoyed the book too.

  37. May 16, 2011 7:56 am

    Maybe I’ll pack this one for BEA. I’ve been meaning to read it for awhile.

  38. May 16, 2011 11:24 am

    I’ve heard so many good things about this book. I have a copy that I’m going to have to pull down from the shelf and read…finally!

  39. May 16, 2011 11:36 am

    Growing up Little Women was one of my favorite books, but I know little about the author. This sounds like a good mix of fiction and fact!

  40. May 16, 2011 11:40 am

    I loved this trailer! I read the book last year and felt pretty much the same as most of the other commentors. (commenters?)

  41. May 16, 2011 8:30 pm

    This sounds like one of those books that I must read!

  42. stacybuckeye permalink
    May 16, 2011 9:46 pm

    I’m not a big Little Women fan but your review makes me think I may like the book anyway!

  43. May 16, 2011 11:54 pm

    I will definitely have to add this one to my summer reading. Little Women is one of my favorite books ever–I wanted to be Jo when I was growing up… 🙂

  44. May 17, 2011 1:06 am

    Ohhh – I’m going to have to go find this one and read it!

  45. May 17, 2011 12:42 pm

    I’d love to read this book and lucky for me it’s on my shelf. I love the cover as well – so pretty.

  46. May 18, 2011 11:44 am

    Oh, I’ve wanted to read this one. I’m glad it’s so good!

  47. May 18, 2011 2:14 pm

    I really enjoyed this one, too, and it definitely put me in the mood to (finally!) read Little Women. I’m ashamed to say I haven’t gotten around to it yet, but I can’t wait.

  48. May 19, 2011 10:42 am

    I’ve never read anything by Louisa May Alcott and I hope this would be my first. I’m so glad to know you enjoyed this one!

  49. May 20, 2011 1:26 am

    I’ve never heard of this one, but it sounds really good. I will have to check this one out.

  50. May 22, 2011 1:21 am

    Every time I see a review of this book, I think of my mother who is a fan of Alcott. I myself never got around to reading Little Women. Although, this book has gotten some really great reviews so I’m thinking of buying it for my mom and then borrowing it after she finishes it. I bet reading this book will inspire me to read Little Women, which always just seemed so daunting to me for some reason.

  51. Linda permalink
    June 7, 2011 3:34 pm

    I’ve enjoyed the book (not quite finished) but am bothered by the fact that the author had Louisa having sex with Joseph. I don’t believe properly raised young women jumped into bed as easily as they do now and I believe the author wanted to put a 21st century spin on her story. I think women at this time in history were very protective of their reputations and had very high moral standards – not saying that it didn’t happen but I think if Louisa did do this that she would have been riddled with guilt and shame – would never have recovered from it as she seems to have in the story. I’m also just a tad offended that this has been tagged onto her and her memory could be tainted by it….I believe she would have been highly offended herself.

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