Friday, April 2, 2010

Historical Fiction Friday: Louisa May Alcott

The majority of this novel takes place before Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women. It takes place in Walpole in 1855 when the family once again had to move because Mr. Alcott was lazy and decided that working isn't what philosophers did(apparently starving and relying on rich friends is what they did).

Louisa is in her twenties. Her dreams to become a writer are strong. She is a driven woman. But she stays on to help her family settle in before she moves on to Boston.

The townspeople participate in the common Victorian activities such as swimming, plays and gossip. All of the Alcott sisters are in this novel, although I wish Lizzie would have had more scenes. However, the novel does show Louisa and Anna's relationship, which was nice. Louisa meets Joseph, the store owner, and at first she isn't very impressed by his boyish charms and humor, but he begins to grown on her. Surprisingly, Louisa begins to wonder if maybe she could marry and be happy. Could she be a wife and mother and still pursue her dreams of being a writer?

I think the novel does capture Louisa's spirit, which is hard. We see her frustration towards her father for being lazy. She is annoyed by her younger sister May, who always weasels her way out of work. Louisa watches her poor mother working too hard to keep the family alive. Louisa isn't a sympathetic person sometimes, but she was known to have fits of anger.

At times the novel comes off as being too sentimental. We see the common Victorian themes of self sacrifice, and perseverance. I'm not sure that I bought the love story, but that wasn't my main reason for reading this novel. I am a huge Louisa May Alcott fan and wanted to read another fiction book about her life.

I would recommend this novel to fans who would like an interesting fiction novel about Louisa. Those who also enjoy historical fiction may want to give this one a go. Do not expect literary fiction or a writing style that is similar to Alcotts. This is a commercial piece of fiction for the masses, and there is nothing wrong with that.

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