Beyond Mr. Darcy: Romantic Historical Fiction discussion

The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott
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Christie (cereale) | 202 comments Mod
While the weather is cold, let's warm up with a book about summer.

In the bestselling tradition of Loving Frank and March comes a novel for anyone who loves Little Women.

Millions of readers have fallen in love with Little Women. But how could Louisa May Alcott-who never had a romance-write so convincingly of love and heart-break without experiencing it herself?

Deftly mixing fact and fiction, Kelly O'Connor McNees imagines a love affair that would threaten Louisa's writing career-and inspire the story of Jo and Laurie in Little Women. Stuck in small-town New Hampshire in 1855, Louisa finds herself torn between a love that takes her by surprise and her dream of independence as a writer in Boston. The choice she must make comes with a steep price that she will pay for the rest of her life.

Christie (cereale) | 202 comments Mod
Questions to Consider While Reading:

1. Describe Bronson and Abba’s marriage. Do you think it influenced Louisa’s view of matrimony? If so, in what way?
2. Was Louisa right not to go with Joseph Singer to New York? Why or why not? What
would you have done?
3. Why was Louisa so protective of her independence? Considering the greater
opportunities available to women now, but also the frenetic pace of their lives and, in some ways, more complex obligations, do you think she would be as protective of her independence if she lived today?

Christie (cereale) | 202 comments Mod
I read this book about a year ago and absolutely loved it.

1. Bronson and Abba's marriage definitely influenced Louisa's view of matrimonty. Abba was the one who had to worry about all the practical things while her husband was busy with his philosphical adventures. I think seeing her mother trying to scrape by and feed her children while her husband was too busy to worry about money gave Louisa a peak at what her own life might be like should she choose to walk down the aisle. Back in the 1800s there weren't a lot of avenues for women and they were at the mercy of their husbands' ideas and ideals most of the time. Louisa did not want to risk becoming like her mother.

2. I think Louisa made the right choice for her by not going to New York with Joseph Singer. Though he might have supported her writing and making money other things would probably have gotten in the way after they said "I do." Children would have been a huge responsibility as well as other practical issues that marriage would bring which would get in the way of Louisa's work. If I was in Louisa's shoes in the same time period, I cannot say I would have done anything different.

3. Louisa was so protective of her independence because there were few opportunities for women in the time period, and especially not for married women. She had also watched her mother struggle in her marriage. I think that women are still very protective of their independence despite greater opportunities. Even in marriages where both spouses work the woman still gets stuck with the brunt of housework and childrearing(the so-called second shift) and as such women are putting off marriage and childbearing as long as possible. However, in this day and age other relationship opportunities are available for women: more sexual freedom and less stigma for cohabitation. I think Louisa would still be as protective of her independence if she lived today, but she may have pursued other types of romance than the traditional marriage which was pretty much the only romance option open to women in the 1800s.

April (AJoyS) | 129 comments 1. Abba and Bronson marriage certainly affected Louisa's view of marriage as does our own parents marriage influence us. Bronson was a selfish man who viewed his own personal convection and philosophies as more important than the well fare of his children or wife. Abba did her best to care for her family and accepted her lot in life so to speak despite her husbands peculiarities.

2. I think Louisa made the right choice for herself by not going with Joseph. The choice she had made to remain single and be a writer was one she had made long before she meet Joseph.
I would not have made the same choice. Like Louisa I knew when I was younger that I wanted be a wife and stay at home mom. My life didn't turn out the way I planned but I did make the choices to follow that idea.

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