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

by Kelly O'Connor McNees

Publication Date:  May 3, 2011
Berkley Trade 


A richly imagined, remarkably written story of the woman who created Little Women- and how love changed her in ways she never expected.

Deftly mixing fact and fiction, Kelly O'Connor McNees returns to the summer of 1855, when vivacious Louisa May Alcott is twenty-two and bursting to free herself from family and societal constraints and do what she loves most. Stuck in small-town New Hampshire, she meets Joseph Singer, and as she opens her heart, 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.


Though I count Little Women among my all-time favorite reads (in fact I was actually named after the youngest daughter Amy as it’s my mother’s favorite also), I know very little about the woman behind the story. Now that I’ve read The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by the talented newcomer Kelly O’Connor McNees, I have been inspired to learn more about the singular and enigmatic Louisa May Alcott.

As we meet Louisa, she is a 22 year old woman living with her three sisters and parents. The Alcott family has just moved to the small town of Walpole and taken up residence in a home on the generosity of their father’s friend. Louisa’s father’s is a philosopher and teacher with a great mind but little penchant for providing financially for his family, leaving the stress of feeding and clothing the family on Louisa’s mother and living off of the charity of friends and vendor credit. Louisa has sold a few of her stories and is saving her earnings so that she can move to the city of Boston and become the author she dreams of, yet her obligation to her family keeps her at home.

When Louisa meets a local boy named Joseph Singer her views on love and marriage will be challenged. Unlike her sister Anna, Louisa believes marriage has little to do with love and sees it more as a prison cell. The demands of being a wife and mother would leave little time for her writing and that is just not a trade-off she is willing to make, no matter what her heart feels.

Touching and poignant, The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott is a captivating look at the life of celebrated author Louisa May Alcott, who sacrificed her heart for a chance at achieving her dreams and won the hearts of readers around the world.

Favorite line: “You read too much. Sometimes I think I can’t remember what your face looks like from the cheekbones down.”

For more information please visit Kelly O'Connor McNees' WEBSITE.

FTC:  I received this book from the publisher in return for an honest review.



  1. I was just in the Boston area and visited the Orchard House, their home in Concord. The people who worked in the museum highly recommended Eden's Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father by John Matteson, if you wanted a history book on them.

  2. Wow, this looks amazing! Thanks for the great review, and that cover is stunning!

  3. You know, I haven't read Little Women before but now I have no excuse since my boyfriend's mom gave me some very old books and I found a 1915 version of Little Women in the box! Very cool. I am looking forward to reading this book too.

  4. Little of my all time favorites. How cool that you're named after Amy!

    I really must get my hands on this book. Great review!

  5. I read this awhile ago and loved it! I am loving the new cover for the paperback edition.

  6. I had so much fun reading this book, too! Little Women is one of my all-time favorite stories, so this is a little icing on the cake :)

  7. I'm totally mad for everything L.M. Alcott -- I can't wait to read this one. Glad to see you rated it high!

  8. Gret review, Amy! I love Little Women and have read somew of Louisa May Alcott's other books but I don't know much about her either. This books sounds like a wonderful way to read about an aspect of her life and get to know her a little bit. She sounds like aremarkable and interesting woman! I'm glad you enjoyed The Lost Summer of Louise May Alcott.


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