In honor of the paperback release of The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott I am pleased to bring you a guest post by author Kelly O'Connor McNees, as well as a 2 copy giveaway of her fabulous novel (to enter please scroll to the bottom of this post)!
Take it away Kelly....
History is about stories
To all those boring, droning history teachers out there, ruining this fascinating subject for thousands of students, listen up! History is about stories. That means it has drama and suspense and comedy and tragedy and plenty of the unexpected. There are blood and guts, love and betrayal--and lots of great clothes.
A couple years ago I started reading biographies of Louisa May Alcott with an eye toward writing a novel about her. I had always loved Little Women, and I knew Louisa also had a life as a suffragette and abolitionist, alongside her philosopher father Bronson Alcott. The more I read about Louisa--what she dreamed of and how those dreams were complicated and thwarted and sometimes fulfilled by circumstance and choice--the more I wanted to build a story around her life.
|Louisa May Alcott|
I kept reading, but I felt my imagination stalling out. I couldn’t find an entry point into the story. It was kind of like being back in one of those boring history classes, copying down the dates. I was reading about her, but I wasn’t getting to the heart of who she was. I had lots of information, but I didn’t have a story.
What I needed, I could see, were Louisa’s own words. So I checked her collected letters and journals out of the library and combed through to find her voice. I wanted to know: What was the Louisa-ness of Louisa? Boy, did I find out! Here I was, reading the very words she wrote in the long, difficult years before she had any success as a writer, reading about her true and deep devotion to her sisters, her sadness at Elizabeth’s death, her loneliness after Anna’s marriage. She became a real person to me, a person with a story. And that was where my novel about her came from—not from her history but from her story, the story she told about herself.
Here is the passage I love more than all the rest, from a letter she wrote to her sister Anna in 1858:
I’m disgruntled with this letter; for I always begin trying to be proper and neat; but my pen will not keep in order, and ink has a tendency to splash . . . I have to be so moral and so dignified nowadays that the jocosity of my nature will gush out when it gets the chance, and the consequences are, as you see, rubbish. But you like it; so let’s be merry while we may, for tomorrow is Monday, and the weekly grind begins again.
A lot of the scenes in my novel and many of its characters are fictional, but the one aspect of the story I hope adheres to historical fact is Louisa’s own voice. Nothing I invented could possibly compete with the true spirit of this remarkable woman.
Kelly O’Connor McNees is the author of The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott, on sale in paperback May 3. She lives in Chicago and blogs at http://kellyoconnormcnees.com.
ABOUT THE BOOK
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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- Giveaway is open to US entries ONLY!
- For +1 additional entry each, please help spread the word by blogging, posting on sidebar, tweeting or posting on Facebook. You can use the SHARE buttons below.- Giveaway ends on May 13th.
GOOD LUCK TO ALL!