Please join me in welcoming author Kelly O’Connor McNees as the special guest blogger here today on her virtual book tour.
Kelly’s book, THE LOST SUMMER OF LOUISA MAY ALCOTT, was released yesterday by Berkley Trade Paperback. Here’s a brief synopsis: 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.
An added bonus - Kelly will have a book signing and discussion in Georgia this week. She will be at the Foxtale Book Shoppe on Saturday, May 7, at 3 p.m. The store is located at 105 E. Main Street, #138 in Woodstock. Be sure to stop by and see her if you can.
Kelly stopped by today to talk about ‘stumbling on a story.’
THE LOST SUMMER OF LOUISA MAY ALCOTT grew from a question: Where did Little Women’s Teddy “Laurie” Laurence come from?
I have always loved Louisa May Alcott’s most famous novel, about the four March sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, and their coming of age during the Civil War. I reread the novel many times over the years, seeing it from new perspectives as my own life changed. But I never knew much about Louisa herself until one day, on a whim, I picked up a biography of this iconic writer.
What I read sent me on a long and fascinating path. Louisa, it turned out, had written hundreds of stories and several novels, many of them under a pseudonym. She hadn’t really wanted to write the mild and moral Little Women. She loved sensational thrillers—what she called “blood and thunder tales”—but these weren’t the sorts of books nice young ladies were supposed to write. No one was more surprised by Little Women’s success than Louisa. She had thought it was boring. But it made her very famous.
She became so famous, in fact, that she knew biographers and reporters would dig through her papers when she died. And so she decided to burn portions of her letters and journals to keep her secrets safe from the public eye.
What did those letters and journals contain? This is the question that sparked my novel. I began to read everything I could about Louisa’s life: biographies of her and her philosopher father, books about New England and the Transcendentalists, the letters and journals that remain, which were collected by a family friend after Louisa’s death. I speculated—the very enjoyable job of the historical novelist—about what kind of story I could tell about the missing information, and whether it might have any connection to the origin of Little Women’s Laurie.
The result of my journey through Louisa’s secret past is THE LOST SUMMER OF LOUISA MAY ALCOTT. I hope you will check it out!
Kelly, thanks for guest blogging. What an intriguing thought. I’ve always liked Little Women but never thought very much about it’s author. You’ve grabbed my attention.
Now for a bit of background on Kelly. She is a former editorial assistant and English teacher. Born and raised in Michigan, she has lived in New York, Rhode Island, and Ontario and now resides with her husband in Chicago. THE LOST SUMMER OF LOUISA MAY ALCOTT is her first novel. For more on Kelly and her writing, check out her website
What are your thoughts on Louisa’s past? Did you know you enjoyed writing ‘blood and thunder’ tales more?