Friday, April 24, 2015

471 (2015 #28). The Revelation of Louisa May

by Michaela MacColl

The Revelation of Louisa May is a young adult historical fiction novel set in Concord, Massachusetts, in 1848, when future author Louisa May Alcott is almost 16 (not in 1846, as stated in a misprint in the author's note in this advance reader edition).

Louisa's father is trancendentalist Bronson Alcott, and his philosophy states that he will not work for others.  Unfortunately this means the family has no money, so author Michaela MacColl takes a real but little-known incident, Louisa's mother "Marmee" (Abigail "Abba" May Alcott) accepting a summer job running a "water cure" hotel in New Hampshire.  (Another misprint - in reality, it was in Maine, not New Hampshire).

Youngest sister May goes with Marmee, and oldest sister Anna is away working.  Louisa stays behind to take care of her father and fragile younger sister Beth.  The family's home, Hillside (called Wayside by a later owner, Nathaniel Hawthorne), was (truly) a stop on the Underground Railroad.  Louisa's worries about not being able to write while her mother is gone are compounded by the arrival of a new "package" - an escaped slave named George.  George is being pursued by a fictional slave-catcher named Finch, who has a history with Thoreau.  Finch winds up dead - and Louisa tries to figure out who killed him.

Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson lived in Concord at the same time, and they (along with Emerson's wife Lidian) are also characters in the book.  I liked the interweaving of these real persons and locations (such as Wright's Tavern and Walden Pond) that I actually saw on a recent trip to Concord.  I learned some more about the true characters of Bronson and Louisa May Alcott.

It isn't necessary to have read Little Women before reading this book, but having done so, MacColl treats such readers to relevant quotes from that novel as the openings to each of her chapters.  Although I could have done without the murder mystery and Louisa's romance, these elements might attract MacColl's target young adult audience and encourage them to read that classic and learn more about Concord and its famous authors.  A list of suggested readings is at the end of this book.

© Amanda Pape - 2015

[I received this advance reader's edition through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.  It will be passed on to someone else to enjoy.]

No comments:

Post a Comment