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The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  3,762 ratings  ·  781 reviews
A richly imagined, remarkably written story of the woman who created Little Women- and how love changed her in ways she never expected.

Deftly mixing fact and fiction, Kelly O'Connor McNees returns to the summer of 1855, when vivacious Louisa May Alcott is twenty-two and bursting to free herself from family and societal constraints and do what she loves most. Stuck in sma

Hardcover, 343 pages
Published April 1st 2010 by Penguin Adult HC/TR
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3.66  · 
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 ·  3,762 ratings  ·  781 reviews

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Christine Zibas
Mar 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Anyone who loved Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women” will find “The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott” a delightful extension of the family atmosphere that made Alcott’s book such a treasure. In much the same way that the Jo March character in “Little Women” is based on Alcott’s own life and family story, so too, is this novel based in part on the real life of Louisa May Alcott.

Though the central story of Louisa’s romance with Joseph Singer during the summer of 1855 in Walpole, New Hampshire, is a
Mar 15, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed reading this book, but I had one major issue with it. I've recently read quite a few contemporary books of fiction that take facts from the life of a famous author and create stories that very well could have happened, but didn't. I don't think this should be done. If I were to be a famous author someday, I would HATE for some future author to make up stories about what they think I did with my life, and what they think I was like.

This is one of those books. I don't care how mu
I don't think I can find the words for how very much I loved this book. McNees worked from several biographies and Alcott's own journals to create this fictionalized account of a rumored love affair that the intensely private L.M.A. covered up. In these pages blooms the walking, talking inspirations for the characters in Little Women and some of Alcott's other books. It is at once very familiar and very new, and every page was rivoting for me--I lost a lot of sleep to this book. I felt the echo ...more
Rebekah O'Dell
Apr 23, 2010 rated it it was ok
Just on the cusp of international fame as a writer, Louisa May Alcott and her family move to the hamlet of Walpole, New Hampshire in the summer of 1855. Bronson Alcott, full-time philosopher and zero-time bread-winner, moves the family into a house generously on loan from family — just another chapter in the Alcott’s life of borrowing in order to sleep and eat. Bronson won’t compromise his transcendental ideals to merely put bread in his daughers’ mouths.

Louisa, exhausted from years of poverty,
Apr 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Staci by: TLC Tour Read
Shelves: 2010-reads
I was sad to see this book end. The author totally drew me into this story and I felt as if I was there in Walpole, New Hampshire walking beside Louisa during her lost summer of love. I love the idea that Louisa may have experienced a true love. And who's to say that she didn't??? There was so much going on in her real life and the author does an excellent job of blending fiction with actual facts. This story came across as authentic...Louisa's voice sounded true and so did that of her family me ...more
What if Louisa May Alcott, renowned author of Little Women, spent the summer of 1855 engaged in romance, torn between her love of freedom and the love of an all too flesh-and-blood man, only to destroy any and all evidence of it at the end of her life? This is the premise of the debut novel from Ms. McNees, and a clever one at that. Too much romance for me, but the historical setting - the intellectual & political fervor of mid-19th Century Boston and it's environs, particularly the Transcen ...more
Mar 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I remember as a child reading Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and hoping I would follow a similar path as “Jo”, the independent, free-spirited heroine who balks at the conventional restraints of her time. In The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O’Connor McNees, readers get another chance to meet the iconic family this novel was based upon and take a closer look at Alcott during the summer of 1855. For anyone who was entranced with “Little Women,” this book is sure to delight. With fa ...more
Jan 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O'Connor McNees

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kelly O'Connor McNees needs to brace herself for the storm of praise she will soon be smothered with. I received an advance copy of Lost Summer on Friday and read it by Saturday, I could not put it down.

Kelly builds a believable scenario about a person that I have held in incredibly high regard since I was a young girl, writer of Little Women Louisa May Alcott. Lost Summer revolves around one summer when the A
Jun 29, 2011 rated it it was ok
It took me a little while to really sink into this story. I really wanted it to be a cute book that I could recommend to my girls since we all love Louisa May Alcott's books---sadly this author put a modern-day, jump in the sack scenario in the middle of the book that both cheapened the love story in the time period it was set in and felt totally random and unromantic. It wasn't inappropriately descriptive-- it just ruined the story's charm.
Mar 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Little Women remains one of my favorite childhood novels. It is one of the first "big" books I remember reading as a little girl, and like millions of girls before and since, I fell in love with Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. Because I much prefer to read fiction rather than research authors, I only know the basic premise of Louisa Alcott's life, but I requested this advanced reading copy because of my affection for Little Women. When I started noticing positive buzz from my fellow bloggers, I opened t ...more
May 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
In the summer of 1855, Walt Whitman's controversial "Leaves of Grass" has just been released, and the notion of making a living as a writer is still a far-off dream for Louisa May Alcott. She is twenty-two years old, vivacious, and bursting with a desire to be free of her family and societal constraints so that she can do what she loves—write.

Within this context, the author combines fact and fiction in a fascinating way to tell a story of a romance during one summer when the Alcotts were living
May 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This was a thoroughly enjoyable book that gives some context to Louisa May Alcott as the author and tells an entertaining and heartbreaking fictional story of love lost.

As we know, Louisa never married, and yet so much of her life was borrowed for the stories in Little Women. Who was the real Laurie? This book poses the question, what if he were real, and what if they were in love? What would have happened that prevented or stopped them from getting married?

The result is this novel, rich in hist
Jun 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a great book to read:
If it's summer
If you want to catch up with the cast of Little Women and March
If you want a break from violence and angst and anger. No wars! (The Civil War is yet to be in this book.)

I was going to say if you wanted a break from politics too, but the father here is a real piece of work. He was basically against everything except thinking deep thoughts. Can you imagine not having food for a family of 6, a neighbor gives you some pork from a pig that had to be put dow
Mar 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
I was quite impressed with this book. The author proposes a love affair for the never-married LMA and answers the ever-intriguing question of Laurie's identity. The author's intense research yields a plot that is quite believable, even for LMA, and the writing style of the author reminds the reader of Alcott and the Victorian period. The novel also offers a lot of insight into the Alcott household and the philosophical but non-working father who condemned his family to poverty and the charity of ...more
Maryellen Wilson
Apr 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I don't know what page I'm on -- I'm close to the end but don't want to finish it. It's fiction and kind of written in the style of "Little Women" with lots of quotes in front of the chapters from LMA's works and other Transcendentalists. I grew up on LMA's books so this is a delight!

Well, I did finish it -- it was a very satisfactory ending and a delightful book! I highly recommend it.
Stephanie *Extremely Stable Genius*
I can't.....TAKE IT ANYMORE!! Make it stop mommy....PLEASE!
Jan 24, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. Not sure how much of this story is based on fact like other historical fiction but it is evident where the inspiration for Little Women comes from. I enjoyed reading the story although didn't always like the way it turned. I couldn't stand Louisa's father, got really annoyed at her mother for babying Lizzie all the time, and at times wanted to shake Louisa for her stubbornness and misguided "feminism." Her tenacity was both admirable and frustrating but overall she got what she asked ...more
Mar 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, favorites
Like so many other young readers, Louisa May Alcott was one of the first authors that I really connected with. For years after my first reading experience with Little Women, I counted Louisa May Alcott as my favorite author. I wrote countless book reports on her and beginning at age ten I read all of her major works from Little Women to Eight Cousins to Jack and Jill until I was about sixteen.

Within all of these works, there always seemed to be a slip of Louisa shining through, but I never real
Amy Roebuck
Mar 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
The author has read all the LMA bios, standard and unusual, and synthesizes all of them into a wonderful tale of a gifted writer, and an ever-so-human woman. I'm suggesting to all the Alcott lovers in my life that they should save this for a summer read.
Beth Knight
Mar 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
The first thing that attracted me to this book was the pretty cover. No, I don't generally judge books by their covers but to this avid reader, a picture of a book on the cover of a book is irresistible.

This is a historical novel about Louisa May Alcott, part fiction and part based on research by the debut author Kelly O'Connor McNees. It is a gentle and old fashioned tale filled with colorful characters that came as a welcome break from the Holocaust/WWII books I just finished reading. There
Mar 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
In a sentence: I adored this book!

I can still remember sitting in the back seat of my parents' car when I was twelve years old, driving to North Carolina for my first look at snow. I was consumed with Little Women - I knew from that moment that I would always love reading. Jo's character was so admirable to me: strong, smart, focused, independent. She was everything that I could see myself wanting to be.

The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott provided a spectacular glimpse at the author that broug
Mar 31, 2010 rated it liked it
"...Jo would have ceased to be Jo if she had agreed to marry Laurie."

This book is a "what if" account of the supposed "lost summer" of author Louisa May Alcott. The story begins in 1855 as the Alcott family moves to Walpole, New Hampshire after a relative offers them a home for the summer (Louisa's transcendentalist father Branwell had a rather unique view of working/sponging off of others for a living). Louisa meets Joseph Singer and Joseph *courts* her quietly - that is until his father drops
Feb 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arcs, read-in-2010
In The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott, we are introduced to a 22 year old Louisa, who is moving to Walpole, New Hampshire with her family due to financial difficulties. While there Louisa struggles with the desire to be a writer and duty to her family. Love and marriage are not options she is willing to consider. She would like nothing more than to go to Boston, live alone and be a writer. Then she meets Joseph Singer. Louisa finds herself smitten and confused. Is there room for love, family a ...more
May 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
What an enjoyable book. McNees clearly did her research, because the period detail is precise and vivid. She also manages to avoid the overly reverent tone that some authors take when writing about beloved historical figures, while keeping her tone entirely appropriate to the story and period. And the reader, Emily Janice Card, is perfectly suited to the material. A real pleasure.
Feb 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone!
Recommended to Mary by: A friend
This is a not to be missed book! I had the opportunity to read it a few weeks ago and I can't wait until it hits bookstores everywhere so that I can suggest it to anyone and everyone in a book group! It's going to be beautiful and it's a very, very, very good read!
Jennifer Northcutt
Mar 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This was an amazing book! The factional detail that the author wove through the story was fantastic. Under the acknowledgements in the back she referenced a few Alcott Bio's that she read. I've added them to my wishlist on
May 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
It made me want to reread Little Women as soon as I was finished. The author's story drew me in on page one and I was sad when I reached the end. I loved this book and know that I will pick it up again and again revisiting it like an old friend (much like Little Women.)
Jan 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book!!! Wonderful book signing at Schulers. Kelly O'Connor McNees is going to have a HUGE career as a writer!
Susan Bright
Apr 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
What a charming book! For more details check out this post on the Friday Morning Bookclub's blog!

Tiffany Mullan
May 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Really enjoyed learning a bit about the history of the Alcott family and reading a beautifally crafted tale of family, friendship, and love.
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Kelly O’Connor McNees grew up in Lansing, Michigan, and holds a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the University of Michigan and a master’s in English education from DePaul University. A former seventh-grade teacher and editorial assistant, Kelly runs a busy editorial business called Word Bird Editorial Services, through which she helps authors of all stripes improve their craft and pre ...more
“You've written plenty of romantic tales," he said, taking the book from her hands and gently closing it. "Didn't you know I would come?” 10 likes
“ seemed marriage by its very design was meant to seek out love and destroy it.” 7 likes
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