The Other Alcottby Elise Hooper Publication Date: September 5, 2017 Genres: Historical Fiction
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: September 5, 2017
Source: This book was given to me by IndieSage PR Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: 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
My Review: The Other Alcott tells the little known story of May Alcott, the woman who inspired Amy March. May is displeased when she discovers that Louisa has based the spoiled and petulant Amy March on her. When Louisa’s book becomes a success, she learns that critics have panned scathing reviews on the illustrations that May has drawn for the book. Discouraged by the bad reviews, May wants to become a successful artist in her own right. She takes art classes to improve her art. Little does she know that she will face many hardships in order to make her dream come true.
May Alcott is a likable protagonist. She is a romantic and an idealist. She is an optimist and does not let hardships get the best of her! Therefore, May had a strong and feisty spirit. There were some aspects of May’s character that I did not like about her. She is really selfish, jealous, spoiled, and can be unforgiving. Still, I like how she is a hard worker and is very passionate about her art! As she matures, her art also matures and improves. I liked seeing her growth as she makes her way in the art world.
I found the relationship between Louisa and May to be endearing. The two sisters have their ups and downs throughout their relationship, but still they have an unbreakable bond. Even though May and Louisa were well-developed, I thought the supporting characters were not. The supporting characters were very one-dimensional. Most of her friends were so alike that I could not tell any of them apart except for their names. The last part of the book seemed very rushed and the author did not take the time to establish May’s romance with Ernest. I did not know why Ernest were so different from the other men in May’s life that she would give up her beliefs of remaining single to marry him.
Overall, this book is about family, hardships, love, and sacrifice. The message of the novel is to never give up on your dreams. While the characters needed more work, I thought the author did a great job of detailing the art world in May’s era. I liked the hardships that many women artists went through. Some of them would have to give up the idea of marrying in order to pursue their passion for art. These women artists that made cameos in this novel are largely forgotten, and I find it to be quite sad that we have never heard of these fascinating women. I really appreciate how the author tells their stories in The Other Alcott. Hopefully, now that many people will read The Other Alcott, these women will be brought out of obscurity. I recommend The Other Alcott not only for fans of Louisa May Alcott and art enthusiasts, but also for fans of Georgia, Rodin’s Lover, and Madame Picasso.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
About Elise Hooper
Although a New Englander by birth (and at heart), Elise now lives with her husband and two young daughters within stone-skipping distance of the Pacific Northwest’s Puget Sound. When she’s not writing, she’s in her classroom making American history and literature interesting for high school students. Want to try your hand at creating a pitch for Shark Tank: Colonial America Edition? Stop by her classroom.
The Other Alcott is Elise’s debut novel and will be released by William Morrow/Harper Collins in September 2017.