The Other Alcott by Elise Hooper
(William Morrow – September 5, 2017)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Gorgeously-written required reading for fans of LITTLE WOMEN, THE OTHER ALCOTT is the “rest of the story” we have all been waiting for since childhood.
Thanks to the author for providing me with an advance copy of this novel for review purposes – all opinions are my own.
There are two types of people in this world – those who have read Little Women, and those who haven’t. And there isn’t a category for those who have read but didn’t love it, because those people simply don’t exist! For all of us in the first category, THE OTHER ALCOTT takes us into the “real” (but fictionalized by Hooper) adult world of the Alcotts, where Louisa is seeing success from the publication of LITTLE WOMEN (although she resents having to write such juvenile fare) and her younger sister May is desperate to be independent and work on her budding career as an artist. She isn’t happy about Louisa using her as a basis for the character of Amy and is reeling from critical reviews of her drawings in LW. May is the narrator of this novel, which takes us from 1868 to 1880 and is a sweeping epic including travel throughout England and Europe.
I can honestly not believe that this is a debut title from Hooper – the research is absolutely breathtaking in its thoroughness and I actually messaged her asking if she is an artist because I couldn’t imagine anyone other than a professional artist being able to write about art the way she does. There is an excellent Afterword and Discussion with the Author telling of Hooper’s motivation for the book’s inception, as well as an incredible amount of detail about the real Alcotts and art during this time period. Hooper also tells us exactly how much of this story is based on fact and which parts have been embellished for the story. There is a Discussion Guide included as well.
I highly recommend this title to fans of LITTLE WOMEN (or those interested in literary and art life in the late 1800s), and I also think it will be a very popular book club selection. I also can envision it being a really fun read for a mother-daughter book club with daughters reading LW and mothers reading THE OTHER ALCOTT! Bravo to Hooper for this stunning debut.