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The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott
by Kelly O'Connor McNees

Published: 2010-04-01
Hardcover : 352 pages
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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 ...
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Introduction

(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.

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Discussion Questions

From the author:

Have you ever read a poem or book that profoundly challenged or changed your
worldview? How might the events of the novel have differed if Walt Whitman had not
published Leaves of Grass in the summer of 1855?
2. What is Louisa’s relationship like with each of her sisters? Do any of these
relationships change throughout the novel? If so, how? Do you think Louisa’s identity
was defined by her sisters?
3. Abba says that men and women experience love differently: “For a man, love is just a
season. For a woman it is the whole of the year.” Is that true in The Lost Summer of
Louisa May Alcott? Is it true in your own personal experience?
4. Bronson Alcott was a truly unusual father and man. What is your impression of him?
How do you think he affected his daughters, and did he affect each one differently?
5. Describe Bronson and Abba’s marriage. Do you think it influenced Louisa’s view of
matrimony? If so, in what way?
6. Was Louisa right not to go with Joseph Singer to New York? Why or why not? What
would you have done?
7. 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?
8. At one point Abba tells Louisa, “We must never give if we are hoping for something
in return.” Why does she say that? Do you think what she says is true?
9. At the end of the novel we learn that Louisa is taking care of her niece Lulu. What
kind of parent do you think Louisa would be, and why?
10. Louisa tells Joseph, “My life is no longer my own.” And yet she chose to base Little
Women, her most successful novel, on herself and her sisters. If writers use their own
experiences as inspiration, are they inviting fans to pry into their personal lives? Or
should their work be taken at face value?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

Before Louisa May Alcott died, she destroyed swaths of her letters to keep them away from biographers' curious eyes. That historical fact, plus a lifelong love of Little Women, sparked the idea for my novel, The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott.

The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott was an Indie Next Pick and an O Magazine Summer Reading List selection.

Praise:

"Devotees of Little Women will flock to this story with pleasure." –The Washington Post

"...McNees deftly combines historic figures and documented aspects of Louisa’s life with speculations about what might have been." –Library Journal

“… the book is so compelling and well written that I hated to see it end.” –Historical Novels Review

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  "The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott"by Gingepep (see profile) 07/24/11

 
  "The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott"by Gingepep (see profile) 07/24/11

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