I vaguely remember reading a kid-friendly version of Little Women as a child – I’m not sure I ever read the full book, but I got enough of the gist to understand why everyone loved it. (That reminds me, I should probably read it as an adult – I’ll add that to the list.) I didn’t know much about Louisa May Alcott, but when I read the synopsis for The Other Alcott, I was immediately intrigued. Another Alcott sister, one who bucked convention as well? Sign me up.
Unfortunately, The Other Alcott failed to grab me, and this one is a DNF. Much as I tried, I couldn’t relate to May. The more I read, the more interested I was in Louisa – which is kinda the exact opposite of what The Other Alcott is trying to do. I don’t necessarily think this is anything to do with Hooper’s writing, but more about me as a reader. May reminded me a bit of other characters I’ve had trouble with – Ellie in Summer at the Dog and Duck, Scarlett in Caraval, Cheryl Strayed in Wild…women who are billed as strong characters, but who have moments of such galling weakness that it makes me scratch my head and wonder if the author is trying to make them appear vulnerable (but leaning too far into it), or if the strength is a facade. If you’re the kind of reader who really likes watching a character constantly try to redeem themselves, The Other Alcott will likely be right up your alley. For me, it felt a little too whiny, and I wasn’t invested enough to give May a chance.
I’d love to read this with a book club though, because I suspect there’s a lot to talk about – especially if the book is paired with Little Women, and you compare and contrast May and Amy March. Someone do that, and fill me in!!
Paperback: 432 pages Published: September 2017 by William Morrow Source: Publisher via TLC
The Other Alcott on Goodreads
Elise Hooper’s debut novel conjures the fascinating, untold story of May Alcott—Louisa’s youngest sister and an artist in her own right.
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. To read this book is to understand why the women behind Little Women continue to cast a long shadow on our imaginations and dreams. Hooper is a writer to watch!”—Elisabeth Egan, author of A Window Opens
About Elise Hooper
Though a New Englander by birth (and at heart), Elise Hooper lives with her husband and two young daughters in Seattle, where she teaches history and literature.
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Thanks to TLC Book Tours and William Morrow for the chance to participate in this tour!