History Imagined




What happened to Louisa May Alcott in Walpole?

In the summer of 1855 the Alcott family, including 22-year-old Louisa May, were forced to move to Walpole, N.H., due to poverty — a kind family member’s charity gave them a rent-free home in the small rural town. Those few historical facts are nearly all that is known about Alcott’s life in Walpole — mysteriously, her letters and journals reveal very little of what occurred during that time.

Perhaps nothing out of the ordinary happened, but many have wondered if she was hiding some scandalous secret. In “The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott” [Amy Einhorn Books/G.P. Putnam’s Sons, $24.95] Kelly O’Connor McNees imagines that Alcott fell in love with a local (and engaged) man, suffered heartbreak and ultimately chose a writing career in Boston over marriage and family at great personal cost. All of this, proposes McNees, could be the real story behind Alcott’s famous fictional pair Jo and Laurie. Though much in “Little Women” is based on Alcott’s life and family, whether Jo and Laurie’s tempestuous near-love affair was solely the product of Alcott’s imagination or not may never be known. This novel offers a romantic, and yet tragic, answer to that literary mystery.

–Erica Thoits

Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Popular Articles

  1. Where to Find Ghosts, Ghouls and Scares in the Granite State
    NH is haunted by everything from a love-struck pirate and mischievous children to malevolent...
  2. Graveyard Fall Foliage Tour
    This tour of historical and beautiful graveyards from around the state combines the spirit of the...
  3. 2017 It List
    Our 2017 It List is the who’s who of New Hampshire. If you wanted to throw the ultimate New...
  4. Bidding Carol Shea-Porter Farewell
    Carol Shea-Porter was ahead of her time.
  5. Popping with the sounds of holiday cheer
    There's no need to travel outside New Hampshire for first-rate holiday pops symphony and choral...
  6. Community Christmas Events and Experiences
    We may not wassail with bowls of punch anymore, but the tradition of celebrating Christmas as a...
  7. Local Food and Drink Gift Ideas
    Give a gift that definitely won't be returned. Our Food Editor recommends everything from spices...
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags