The Other Alcott – by Elise Hooper – independent book review – Fiction

51i-YifhyBL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_Awarded three stars on Goodreads.

First, let me confess that I read this BEFORE I read LITTLE WOMEN (though I have read it since), and have seen every one of the movies. I am therefore familiar with the March family and the Alcotts lived in my current town of Concord, MA. I picked up this book specifically to learn more about May Alcott, the youngest of the four daughters and the sister on which Amy March was based.

I enjoyed getting to know May and her two older sisters (the fourth is already deceased when this book begins) and appreciated this author’s effort to explore a professional rivalry between Louisa the writer and May the artist. I also enjoyed getting a sense of what it was like for a woman to aspire to be a artist in the latter 1800s, when marriage with children was the expected life path. I also enjoyed the way the author integrated stories of other artists during May’s studies in Boston, France, England, and Italy.

But I felt disappointed with the writing of the book which seemed to wander. It seemed at times like a book about May’s struggle to realize her artistic ambitions. Other times it seemed much more about her competitive relationship with Louisa. There were rivalries with fellow women artists thrown in. And, of course, a romance or two. But I had the sense that the author couldn’t quite decide where the focus of the book should be. Or perhaps, it was more an issue of not joining together all these disparate elements in a cohesive whole.

Elisa Hooper (photo courtesy of Twitter

The result was that I finished the book feeling unsatisfied. I hope your experience is better.

More about Elise Hooper.



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