Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Only Gossip Prospers

Rate this book
In late 1875 Louisa May Alcott spent a winter in New York City. Her journals give a rough sketch of the people she met, the salons she attended and a few outings that she enjoyed. She intended to stay "until I am tired of it," but left abruptly in mid-January.

Filled with biographical references to Louisa's family, New Yorkers of the time and Alcott's literary works, Only Gossip Prospers intertwines the real people Louisa met, the actual events of New York City and a host of fictional characters who inhabit a world that Louisa herself would recognize. Written in a style reminiscent of Alcott's juvenile fiction and short adventure stories, the book is part historical fiction, part love letter to the charm of 1870s New York and part biography of Louisa and her contemporaries. Only Gossip Prospers enters the debate that still hovers over Little Women as to what was "real" and what was "made up." There are some twists and surprises, including one that will satisfy the greatest question left unanswered for fans of Little Women: what really happened between Jo and Laurie?

Only Gossip Prospers mashes together fact and fiction to draw a realistic portrait of Louisa May Alcott at the height of her fame.

322 pages, Paperback

Published October 16, 2019

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Lorraine Tosiello

6 books15 followers
Rabble Rouser

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
19 (51%)
4 stars
12 (32%)
3 stars
5 (13%)
2 stars
1 (2%)
1 star
0 (0%)
Displaying 1 - 19 of 19 reviews
Profile Image for Tarissa.
1,353 reviews82 followers
December 15, 2019
An excellent, authentic-feeling portrait of Louisa May Alcott's life, post-Little Women.

Louisa takes a motherly, Marmee type of role in this saga. Wherever she treads, even in the giant sea of people in New York, she leaves an indelible mark on her very own hodgepodge set of little women around her.

Very well researched, in architecture, fashion, news of the day, etc. The fictional story is wound tightly around accurate historical facts. The fine details add flair to the story and make it seem so realistic. Many important people of the time period are included. The setting feels quite authentic. Plus, the plot even has some mystery brewing in the background that kept me interested.

On a different note though... Ladislas (Louisa's European friend) makes an appearance in New York. He locates Louisa, in a completely fictionalized scenario, and becomes a character that clashes with how I personally imagine him. This is the one element in the book where I would have preferred a different path, a different ending. Ladislas should have left us (and Louisa) with a happy memory. Sob.

Anyways, the writing style is great. I recognize bits of various lines that Tosiello includes in Louisa's dialogue, which reflect or repeat actual Louisa May Alcott phrases... and I like it! What a great job of intermingling true quotes into a fictional story, and make it seem like a natural thought process.

Overall, I do believe that this book gives a fair tribute to Miss Alcott's life. I feel like Louisa's true personality shines bright.

Minimum age to read: 15 and up. (Contains subtle hints of mature topics.)

The 1st line is sublime:

“It wouldn’t be Saturday without the hordes.” Louisa snapped the parlor curtains closed and turned to her sisters.
Profile Image for Debarati.
45 reviews
December 15, 2019
Fun, Interesting and Full of Surprises

It can easily be a semi-biographical novel of LMA and to the credits of the Author, at times, it feels as if LMA has written it herself, for the Author has got the voice of LMA perfectly; the sarcasm, the rage, the concern, the care; the motherly, sisterly, and friendly tone of LMA that could only be found in her letters and journals have been brought to the pages of a fiction novel beautifully.

The lurid subplots are filled with twists and turns which keeps the reader on the edge of their seats, making this a good mystery novel as well. The whole story is a mesmerizing travelogue of the city of New York and it holds some interesting facts of NYC of the 19th century.

To be frank, this story is the exact story to read when you want to know the real LMA and not― the depressed, dark, and apparently psychiatric Author, who lashes at her fans, which is basically the first thought that comes to the texts.

Lorraine Tosiello has done a commendable work taking into account that this one is her debut novel. I hope she continues her brilliance, though I believe she still needs to find her own voice in a story, as to me, at least, it felt to be more similar to that of Louisa May Alcott, though that might have been done intentionally for the purpose of the story. Few of the characters in the story are collected from the works of LMA but wonderfully has been sketched out in the story in Tosiello's own style.

I loved the book and would actually recommend it to all the Little Women fans out there who wishes to know the real Jo.
Profile Image for Connie Saunders.
1,400 reviews95 followers
December 16, 2019
Louisa May Alcott is the author of one of my favorite books, Little Women, and this book, Only Gossip Prospers, is a depiction of the time that Alcott spent in New York City after she had enjoyed great success with her masterpiece. Louisa is middle-aged when she decides to travel to New York City in 1875 and she encounters both the good and bad sides of this city. She is thrilled with the lights, the stores, and the plays but appalled to see orphaned children, apparently hungry and cold, thrust into the work force.

It is evident that author Lorraine Tosiello has done extensive research about Louisa and this time period and she has seamlessly woven these historical facts into her fictional story. Louisa meets the famous and not-so-famous and she uses her celebrity to help those who need a helping hand. But then, after being disheartened by several experiences, Louisa realizes that " She was profoundly tired of being away from home. Everything in New York had turned out to be the opposite of what she expected."

The timing for the publication of this book is perfect because of a new movie version of Little Women that is being released this holiday season and I especially enjoyed the references to Jo and Laurie sprinkled throughout the story. As a fan of Louisa May Alcott and of historical fiction, I heartily recommend Only Gossip Prospers.

I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by the publisher, Pink Umbrella Books. A review was not required and all views and opinions expressed are my own.
Profile Image for Lorraine Tosiello.
Author 6 books15 followers
January 2, 2022
I just reread my own book after 2 years in preparation for a presentation at a book club! Guess what? I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. There's a ton of Louisa May Alcott hidden gems and nuances in this book. I surprised even myself with some of them on rereading! LOL! This book is best understood by those who have read a few of LMA's children's novels and know a bit of her biography. I totally still love Casey and Herr Hahn.
Profile Image for Eileen O'Finlan.
Author 4 books179 followers
May 13, 2020
As a lover of all things Alcott, the premise of this book intrigued me. I admit that I usually don't like fictionalized accounts of real people, but there have been a few exceptions and this is one of them. Tosiello did such an amazing job of writing in Louisa May Alcott's voice that it was easy to forget this book wasn't written by Alcott.

Though it is obvious that Tosiello has done her homework on Louisa, the Alcott family, several prominent New York personages, and the city itself, it never felt like a mere relating of people and events. This was a real, honest-to-goodness story and an excellent one at that. The fictional Louisa of this book interacts with many others in a totally believable way given what is known of her personality. There were several unexpected twists in the story that kept it from being just an account of a Louisa's stay at a theraputic bath house in New York as interesting as that might have been on its own. Every character had their own story and it was a pleasure to learn them.

Tosiello takes the reader to the artistic, literary, philanthropic, and philosophical salons and societies showing the high thoughts and noble doings of those within this realm as well as to the poor, dangerous, and unpalatable places such as the Tombs prison, the insane asylum, and an orphanage. Nineteenth century New York is on display in all its glitter and dirt and the reader experiences it through Louisa's eyes and processed through her thoughts. As the author notes in the afterward, Louisa did make such a trip and wrote about it in her journals. The story is a fascinating fictionalized, but convincing slice of Alcott's life.
Profile Image for Sydney.
967 reviews107 followers
December 12, 2019
In Only Gossip Prospers, author Lorraine Tosiello brings to life the story of Louisa May Alcott and her time in New York. Tosiello beautifully combines fact and fiction to depict a realistic version of this brilliant woman and a part of her life. And although this story is a mash up of fact and fiction, it’s written in a way that readers can come to better know the beloved Louisa May Alcott at the height of her fame after writing Little Women. This story has the vibe of other literary works written by authors such as Louisa May Alcott herself, as well as Charles Dicken, Jane Austen, etc. This is a fun story that fans of Little Women and other works by Louisa May Alcott will enjoy.

Genre: historical
Publisher: Pink Umbrella Books
Publication date: October 16, 2019
Number of pages: 322

A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher, Pink Umbrella Books. A review was not required and all views and opinions expressed are my own.
Profile Image for Betsy.
5 reviews
August 26, 2020
I loved this book! The book is a quick read — well researched so that there aren’t anachronisms pulling you out of the story (my biggest historical fiction pet peeve). I especially liked the medical history details sprinkled throughout. The characters are well drawn, and I enjoyed the plot twists.
Profile Image for Emily.
37 reviews
July 2, 2020
I had never been able to get through Little Women when I was young. So, I decided to read (actually listen to) Little Women before reading Only Gossip Prospers. I read Only Gossip Prospers in two days and could not put it down. The book reflects a real love for Alcott and her writing style. Reading the book made me appreciate Little Women (finally). Alcott was an extraordinary person from an incredible family. They were extremely charitable and just kind, sympathetic people. Louisa May Alcott was also extremely independent and straight forward which was not so common in her day. I am grateful to Lorraine Tosiello for bringing Alcott to my life. It was a wonderful two day read where I was completely immersed in New York City in 1875. I have lived in New York for most of my life and found Lorraine's well researched details about the city at that time fascinating. I am looking forward to the next book!
1 review
February 3, 2020
This book made me want to walk the NYC of the time and meet all these fascinating people. I loved the style of the author and often forgot that this story was based on actual facts and people!
I would recommend this book not only to LMA fans but also fans of NYC and it’s History.
December 1, 2020
Good read for Alcott fans!

I enjoyed the historical fiction about early century nyc. Great depiction of Louisa May Alcott and her quest to elevate women in society.
Profile Image for Sarah.
188 reviews
March 14, 2020
I am rating this book three stars according to my much more conservative rating system--in which only Little Women itself (and anything Jane Austen wrote) gets five stars. I genuinely enjoyed this novel and would highly recommend for Little Women fans everywhere. The author's passion for Louisa May Alcott and for New York City jumped off the page and made this a joy to read. The writing was clear and eloquent and evoked the time period for the novel's setting. I enjoyed the plot twists and turns and especially loved the commentary about Louisa's complicated relationships with and opinions of the boys and men in her life--something I have always wondered about and identified with personally (along with every other Little Women fan who imagined herself as Jo.) Excellent debut novel! Well-researched, well-crafted, and well-written--I look forward to the next one!
Profile Image for Nicole.
163 reviews2 followers
December 19, 2019
For as much as I love reading, especially reading classic literature and well written literature, you'd think I'd be a bigger fan of "Little Women." I have read it, but only once and I think I was probably too young because I found it boring. I did love the Winona Rider movie from the moment I saw it, and I have often thought I should read "Little Women" again. (I also love the movie of "The Inheritance," another Louisa May Alcott novel. But I've never read that book and feel I should.)

What does all of that have to do with this book - "Only Gossip Prospers"? Well, it's the reason this book gets 3 stars instead of 4 for me. It has nothing to do with the book, and everything to do with my experience. This book is beautifully written. The description and historical information is poetic and and scientific all at the same time. The characters are interesting, and their stories being presented as pieces in a bigger puzzle was intriguing; I wanted to know how it was all going to fit together and what the final takeaway would be with so much variety and almost randomness in happenings. The author does tie it all together believably and very satisfyingly. All the while painting a picture of Louisa May Alcott that is human and heroic. She was fascinating to me as a character even though the events and actions of the book were mostly mundane.

Unfortunately, because my personal interest in Louisa May Alcott and Little Women is low I didn't have the love for this book that it deserves. I don't know much about this period in history, particularly the history of New York, mostly because it hasn't been of high interest. I certainly know more after reading "Only Gossip Prospers," but my interest level hasn't really increased. That's all on me though. Just wasn't my cup of tea. However, with the new perspective this book gave me on Louisa May Alcott and on the societal and historical importance of "Little Women," I am very interested in reading Little Women again. I think I'm likely to enjoy it much more now that I'm more mature, but also because of the window "Only Gossip Prospers" gave me into how autobiographical "Little Women" is.

If you are already a Little Women fan, I imagine this is a book you don't want to miss. With the genius of the writing I bet it would feel as inviting as coming home for the holidays. If you are not a Little Women fan, or maybe aren't sure if you are, this book is informative, interesting, and worth reading so you can appreciate the easy and yet poetic prose. It may not have been a page turner for me, but it is impressive in its literary value.
Profile Image for Tia.
11 reviews4 followers
December 14, 2019
So first I would love to start off and say this book was given to me for an honest review on this tour and an honest review I will give. I don't just read every book that is thrown at me, as I would have too many books to read. So I only accept offers from authors who have books that genuinely interest me. I love anything Louisa May Alcott, so I knew I had to get my hands on this book as soon I was reached out too.

The author did a wonderful job pulling from the life of the famous author and melding it together with fiction to create a cohesive story that makes you feel all range of emotion. I found myself laughing and crying. The characters are lovable and you grow a strong fondness for the author herself and she goes through her adventures in New York City at the peak of her fame after the publishing of Little Women. You discover some well-needed information on who was inspirations for characters in the classic children's book and people who came to be in her life later, that reminded her of characters in her stories. You read of hardships and joys. There were points in this book that brought me the same joy as when I read little women for the first time and some moments where I was completely heartbroken as well. Tosiello does an amazing job of capturing the style of spoken word for the time that makes this book feel like it could be a biography for Alcott. She captures the moments in such a way that I wasn't sure it was a piece of fiction at all.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It gave me the joy to read! It was a slower read for me as historical fiction takes me some time, but it not because I didn't enjoy the book as a whole. I enjoyed this book and will be suggesting it to others! I wish i could share all the little sticky notes I left throughout the book, but that's a lot of notes to document. Thank you to Pink Umbrella and Tosiello for the opportunity to read and enjoy this book.
Profile Image for Janell Madison.
301 reviews9 followers
December 10, 2019
“Only Gossip Prospers (A Novel of Louisa May Alcott in New York)” by Lorraine Tosiello

“Author Tosiello loved “Little Women” as a girl and has created a wonderful novel of Louisa May Alcott’s time in New York, as an adult and prominent author. Fans of “Little Women” will love this historical fiction novel, “Only Gossip Prospers.”- Green Gables Book Reviews

Louisa May Alcott is at the peak of her career and takes a trip for healing to New York. She looks forward to the theatre and all the wonderful things that the city has to offer, but is not seeking to be known for her fame. She is even entering New York under an assumed name to maintain her privacy.

Louisa befriends and becomes a caretaker to many along her journey. When her name is exposed, she fears that others may not understand her position.

The book showcases New York in the 1870s and shows Louisa experiencing the wonder of the theatre and shopping, but also the despair of children earning a living without their parents. Louisa meets friends both new and old, she enjoys her time but leaves abruptly. Read the book to see her story unfold!

Written from her journals during this time, with references to New York and Alcott’s literary works, “Only Gossip Prospers” is a behind the scenes historical fiction novel of Alcott’s career at its peak.

Well written, very well documented historical fiction!

Paperback: 321 pages
Publisher: Pink Umbrella Books LLC (December 5, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 194959811X
ISBN-13: 978-1949598117
35 reviews1 follower
January 26, 2020
BOOK REVIEW #4!: 5/5
Little Women fans! This should be your next read! Only Gossip Prospers: A Novel of Louisa May Alcott in New York is an absolutely beautiful homage to Louisa May Alcott and to New York City. One can tell when reading that @ltosiello_author did an incredible amount of research on her topics. Her descriptions of New York City in 1875 are so interestingly detailed that they make me wish I could go back in time! Through her writing, you can tell that Tosiello has a genuine admiration and love for Alcott and the powerful force of a woman that she was. After reading this story, I just want to continue learning more and more about her! As a fictional writer, Tosiello also very craftily creates complex secondary characters that add to Louisa’s experiences, and there are many fun twists and turns within the story along the way.

If you enjoyed the book Little Women or either of the movie adaptations and/or if you are a fan of historical fiction, I highly recommend this novel!
Profile Image for Kathleen.
65 reviews15 followers
June 3, 2020
I loved this book. It was so beautifully and .. I guess the word would be "intelligently" written. The style of writing was as Louisa May Alcott would have written it in the 19th century. It was about the few months that Ms. Alcott was in NYC after she wrote "Little Women," and told about the people she met and associated with during that time. The author states that fiction was 'mashed' with non-fiction but it was all based on fact with some fictional characters tossed into the story.

I learned so much reading this book. I had no idea about .. well, about SO much of the life of Louisa May Alcott and all the people who contributed so much to the history of NYC during this time. I loved Ms Tosiello's descriptions of the NYC landscape and the magnificence of the city.

I'm looking forward to reading Lorraine Tosiello's next book.
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
85 reviews9 followers
November 5, 2019
Gifted the book to read for a book blog tour. The book kept my interest, and reminded me of a Dickens novel if it were written by a woman and took place in America. I also had to keep reminding myself that the main character was Louisa the real author of Little Women, not her character Jo.
Displaying 1 - 19 of 19 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.