Louisa May Alcott was, in many ways, a woman way ahead of her time. Her formative years were spent in physical labor and poverty, yet her mind was nurtured by conversations between her philosophical father and some of America's most literate men...the likes of Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Don't you wonder what she saw with those dark eyes and what she is thinking of behind them?
I do, too. And so did author Kelly O'Connor McNees. In fact, that is one of the things that drove her to create this debut novel. With imagination, insight and tons of research, she tells the story of twenty two year old Louisa, caught between duty to her family and her intense desire to support herself with what she felt was her God given talent...writing.
Love and marriage were not part of her plans. A woman's place in the home in 1855 was a harsh one, filled with the never ending tasks of cleaning, cooking and child rearing. Louisa realizes that marriage to anyone will inevitably drop these tasks onto her shoulders and, while she is no stranger to hard work, she knows such work will sap her ability to write. If she marries she will never live her dream of being a published author.
Her faith in herself and her strength of will is tested when she meets Joseph Singer, a young man who is able to touch her mind and tempt her away from her long awaited goal. Through the author's weaving of this fictional relationship, we come a little closer to understanding the Louisa of the photograph, a woman whose abilities cut through the gender and class restraints of her time and made her one of the most beloved authors in literature.
This is a lovely novel, well written, smart and most of all true to the spirit of Louisa May Alcott and her books. I devoured this one, loved every minute of it and will be eagerly anticipating the author's next book!!
Kelly has a fantastic website with info about the book, Louisa May Alcott and more (click here). She is going to be at the River Run Bookstore in Portsmouth, NH on April 27th at 7 pm...I can't wait! I'll be there with my galley clutched in my hand. For a complete list of Kelly's appearances, click here.