The Other Alcott: A Novel is a beautiful debut novel written by Elise Hooper. Here’s the description from the back cover:
There is nothing more complicated than the relationship among sisters, and the one shared by the Alcott sisters of Concord, Massachusetts, was no exception. This inspired Louisa May Alcott as she wrote her classic novel Little Women, but while everyone cheers on Jo March, a character based on Louisa herself, Amy 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. While her sister Louisa crafts stories, May is a talented and dedicated artist, one who takes lessons in Boston, turns down a marriage proposal from a well-off suitor, and faces 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 have been facing for so many years. Everyone agrees the novel is charming, but May is struck to the core by the portrayal of the selfish, spoiled “Amy March.” Is this what her beloved sister really thinks of her?
So May embarks on a quest to discover her true identity, as an artist and a woman. From Boston to Rome, London, and Paris, this brave and determined soul forges an amazing life of her own, making her so much more than merely “The Other Alcott.”
I would recommend The Other Alcott to those who enjoy: historical fiction, absorbing stories that develop slowly, artists from the 1800s, and are fans of Louisa May Alcott’s books. Although I haven’t read Little Women all the way through, I knew enough about the March family (I was named after Meg, after all) to understand the underlying tension of May being portrayed as the spoiled Amy March.
I also enjoyed reading the author’s notes at the end – sometimes when reading historical fiction I wonder how much creative license an author makes (which might be why I disliked The Other Einstein so much), but Hooper based a lot of the story on facts she accumulated from multiple sources. So not only was it a great book, I learned a lot about the Alcott family as well!
What historical fiction novels would you recommend? Post your recommendations in the comments!