The Other Alcott
September 5, 2017
Free from publisher
We all know the story of the March sisters, heroines of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. But while everyone cheers on Jo March, based on Louisa herself, Amy March is often the least favorite sister. Now, it’s time to learn the truth about the real “Amy”, Louisa’s sister, May. Stylish, outgoing, creative, May Alcott grows up longing to experience the wide world beyond Concord, Massachusetts. While her sister Louisa crafts stories, May herself is a talented and dedicated artist, taking lessons in Boston, turning down a marriage proposal from a well-off suitor, and facing scorn for entering what is very much a man’s profession. Life for the Alcott family has never been easy, so when Louisa’s Little Women is published, its success eases the financial burdens they’d faced for so many years. Everyone agrees the novel is charming, but May is struck to the core by the portrayal of selfish, spoiled “Amy March.” Is this what her beloved sister really thinks of her? So May embarks on a quest to discover her own true identity, as an artist and a woman. From Boston to Rome, London, and Paris, this brave, talented, and determined woman forges an amazing life of her own, making her so much more than merely “The Other Alcott.” “Elise Hooper’s thoroughly modern debut gives a fresh take on one of literature’s most beloved families.
Confession time before continuing with this review. I have never read Little Women! I know, I know, but I have to gear myself up for really long books, and just never got around to this one (although I do own a copy). I'm not sure whether that fact has any bearing on my review, but I wanted full disclosure. This was a perfectly good read, but it did contain a few problems for me. I thought the story was interesting, it seemed well researched, and it flowed well. I am not an artist, and I did get a bit bored with some of the longer passages about May's art. The dynamics of the family members was the most entertaining part of the book for me, although I can't say that I came away really liking any of them (why couldn't Anna take care of the parents?). I did appreciate the various settings described throughout (Rome, London, Paris, Boston), and the peeks that were given of some of the other famous artists of that time period. The insertion of letters was also a plus for me.
A good read, maybe a bit too heavy on the creation of art, but probably one that will have even more impact for those who have read Little Women.