Review: LITTLE WOMAN IN BLUE by Jeannine Atkins

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So – we all know my obsession with all things Alcott, right? Well, this summer at the Summer Conversational Series, I met Jeannine Atkins, who was quite charming, and she was speaking about May Alcott and her new novel about her (which came out in September). Of course I NEEDED this book and right away. Jeannine kindly gifted me with an ARC and I tucked it away so that I could savor it.

If you know me, you know that I am very, very picky when I read about the Alcotts. If stories don’t fit what I deem to be true and right, well then I don’t want any part of it. I’ve been know to stop reading a book, shout “Hogwash!”, and actually toss it away if it contains what I perceive to be Alcott sacrilege. Jeannine was such a genuinely nice person that I had my fingers crossed that I would not be doing any book tossing!

Well, no worries. This book is an absolute delight. Right from the first pages I knew Jeannine had done her homework. There is SO MUCH of the real Alcotts included in her pages, from things they said to the flowers they picked to the food they ate to the people they visited. This book is so on target that I know Jeannine had to have spent hours reading and digesting the real journals and letters of the family. Kudos to her!

If you only know the Alcotts as the family of Little Women, then you are in for a treat. Even if you only know me peripherally, you know that I am always talking about the whole family and how fascinating they all were. May is my favorite. Sweet, beautiful May (“Amy” for you Alcott newbies) was the youngest, the most beautiful, the most vivacious, and the talented artist who spent her late teen/early adult years developing her art, teaching art to the young people of Concord, and drawing on the walls of her bedroom at Orchard House (still seen today!). May was determined to see and study in Europe and to become a true artist. This book is May’s story — her friendship with Julian Hawthorne, her complicated relationship with Louisa, her love for her family, and her struggle to become an artist when female artists were not encouraged. It is also May’s love story of her relationship with Ernst and her dream of one day being both an artist and a mother.

Now I’ll be honest — SPOILER ALERT — I dragged out this book so that it didn’t have to end. I cried the last three chapters because I know what was coming. I just have always loved May (the REAL May, not “Amy”). I loved this book so much!

Jeannine, if you are reading this, I am sending you a virtual hug because I’m just so happy that you portrayed the Alcotts so realistically. Thank you so much for your beautiful novel of “summer’s golden child”.

To the rest of you – even if you are just a little bit curious, go out and get this book – pronto! You can thank me later.

(picture from google images)

Saturday Snapshot: Authors at the Concord Bookshop!


 What a great evening at the Concord Bookshop this Thursday!  Sarah McCoy  and Erika Robuck were there to promote their new releases THE MAPMAKER’S CHILDREN and THE HOUSE OF HAWTHORNE. It was a fun “chatty” evening with lots of laughs and interesting info on their writing processes. I loved both these books (they came out 5/5) and reviewed them this week on my blog – here https://drbethnolan.wordpress.com/2015/05/02/review-the-mapmakers-children-by-sarah-mccoy/ and here https://drbethnolan.wordpress.com/2015/05/01/review-the-house-of-hawthorne-by-erika-robuck/

In the pictures Sarah and Erika chat with bookshop owner Dawn (on left) and also pose together (Sarah on left).

I have to say it — Sarah’s cowboy boots were the cutest thing ever!

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Melinda at http://www.westmetromommyreads.com. Check her site for participation details!

Review: THE HOUSE OF HAWTHORNE by Erika Robuck

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Love, love, love.

I love it when I wait for a book to come out and then read it and love it! Erika Robuck’s latest book, THE HOUSE OF HAWTHORNE, tells the story of Nathaniel and Sophia Hawthorne’s life together, from their courtship to his death. Erika does a fantastic job making these characters come alive. Her depictions of Concord and Massachusetts at that time (mid to late 1800’s), along with her portrayal of other Concord notables (Emerson, Alcotts, Margaret Fuller, etc.) are spot on. We see Nathaniel and Sophia as they begin married life, have their years at the Old Manse, move to Europe, have children, and come home to the Wayside. Told in Sophia’s unforgettable voice, this story reads almost as if you are peering into the inner thoughts and workings of these minds. I loved every page of it.

If you know me, you know that I spend a lot of time in Concord, hanging with the Alcotts. I am extremely picky when authors choose to write a novel that portrays the people I revere so heartily. I am incredibly critical and often have been known to toss a book aside because it seems anachronistic or unrealistic. I love Erika’s other books and actually was a tiny bit worried I could be disappointed  – but no fear. This book is spot on and a joy to read.

Sure to be one of my top picks for this year, be first in line when it comes out May 5th!

Thank you, Net Galley and Penguin Books, for my copy!

Local friends — meet Ms. Robuck (and another amazing author whom I love – Sarah McCoy) at the Concord Bookshop on May 7 at 7 PM. Meet me, too, if you want – lol!

Get this book at an indie bookstore near you!


Find it at an Indie near you! I am an Indie Bound Affiliate.

Kickstarter Campaign for Orchard House Documentary – only 60 hours left!

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If you know me, you know I have a complete obsession with all things Alcott — the person, the family, the books, etc. I’m a “Little Women” junkie (I’m actually also a lifelong devotee to Laura Ingalls Wilder, but that’s for another post).

Orchard House, the house museum of Louisa May Alcott in Concord, MA, where she wrote Little Women is running a Kickstarter campaign in order to create a documentary about the house. This is how the official page describes the project:

The Documentary Project:

Everyone has a special place – a mountaintop, a cathedral, a beloved home – that makes them feel safe, connected, and inspired. For millions of people from all over the world, Orchard House is that place: a gathering place, where people from many backgrounds have come together for over 350 years to count themselves part of a community – a community steeped in hope, courage, and perseverance.

Many who wish to experience Orchard House may never be able to visit in person, and there are millions more that do not realize the house exists. Together with your pledges and our dedication, this film will change that.

The history of Orchard House includes the prolific Alcotts, of course, but other stories remain unexplored. Even a visit to the home cannot reveal all there is to tell about Orchard House. That’s why we need to make this documentary.

Our film will be an hour-long, PBS quality documentary that will dive deep into those stories starting in the 1600’s. We will tell of the courageous occupants before the Alcotts, including the rescuer of a kidnapped woman and a Revolutionary soldier. We will also offer insights about Concord’s rich literary history; chronicle the process of how the museum was created in 1911; and, of course, give a behind-the-scenes look into the Alcott family and their time in Orchard House. We will seek national and international distribution to share interviews with house staff, Alcott scholars, celebrity friends, and the people of Concord to illuminate the remarkable power of place Orchard House possesses.

You can see the whole project, read more, make a pledge of just about any amount, and see the details at:

We are SO CLOSE to reaching the goal of $150,000 and there are only a handful of hours left.

Only a little more than $7,000 to go! #pledgeyourlove http://www.louisamayalcott.org

Saturday Snapshot: Bookstore Window

If you know me, you know I do a lot of community theater. I recently was working on publicity for a local show, Night Watch, in Concord, and the Concord Bookshop displayed a themed window for the production:

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There’s a bit of a glare in the background (showing you Main Street, Concord!) but I thought they did a fun job putting in a few play props and then books that fit the mystery/thriller theme of the story!

Just a note — The Concord Players was originally started as the Concord Dramatic Union by none other than my hero, Louisa May Alcott (and her sister, Anna). No surprise that I’ve attached myself to the organization!!

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Melinda at http://www.westmetromommy.blogspot.com. Please see her site for info on participating.